When farmer Rog dies, his son Peter stays, but Johannes can not be satisfied with such a condition (and servant Maria's love) and finds a job as old Count Rudenberg's secretary. His ... See full summary »
In his final film, F.W. Murnau presents the tale of two young lovers on the idyllic island of Bora Bora in the South Pacific. Their life is shattered when the old warrior declares the girl to be the Chosen Maid and it is forbidden for any man to even look upon her. Refusing to accept a life apart, they run off to another island, one that is decadent and westernized. The boy works as a pearl diver but not quite understanding the concept of money, is soon in debt. When the old warrior tracks them down they again plan to run away but in a desperate attempt to pay off his debts, the boy dives for pearls in shark-infested waters. The boy is successful but fate seems determined to keep the two lovers apart.Written by
Producer/director/co-writer F.W. Murnau died in a car accident a few days after starting work on the music for this film. It had its New York premiere a week later. See more »
[writing a goodbye letter]
I must go. Hitu is here and waits for me. You will die if I do not obey. I will go so that you may live. The tabu is upon us. I have been so happy with you far more than I deserved. The love you have given me, I will keep to the last beat of my heart. Across the great waters, I will come to you in your dreams when the moon spreads its path on the sea. Farewell.
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Tabu might best be described as ethnographic-fiction which combines Robert J. Flaherty's documentary style with F.W. Murnau visual sensibilities. The result is one of the last great silent era films. The naturalistic setting is perfectly matched by the realistic acting of the non-traditional cast, the local Polynesian people. As a tragic love story, the plot is deceptively simple, yet it is unexpectedly engaging. Murnau's expressionist background continues to be expressed through his artful use of light and shadow. His decision not to use inter-titles to explain dialogue was perhaps the most fitting to the story and the setting, leaving the majority of the plot development to the actions of the characters and the work of the camera (Klaus Ming November 2008).
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