7.6/10
4,291
23 user 48 critic

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, Adventure | 1 August 1931 (USA)
On the South Pacific island of Bora Bora, a young couple's love is threatened when the tribal chief declares the girl a sacred virgin.

Director:

F.W. Murnau

Writers:

F.W. Murnau (told by), Robert J. Flaherty (told by) (as R.J. Flaherty)
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

City Girl (1930)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A Chicago waitress falls in love with a Minnesota farmer, and decides to face a life in the country.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: Charles Farrell, Mary Duncan, David Torrence
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An aging doorman, after being fired from his prestigious job at a luxurious Hotel is forced to face the scorn of his friends, neighbours and society.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Max Hiller
Phantom (1922)
Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A shiftless young man becomes obsessed with a mysterious woman and yearns to find her again.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: Alfred Abel, Frida Richard, Aud Egede-Nissen
Tartuffe (1925)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Young man shows his millionaire grandfather a film based on Molière's Tartuffe, in order to expose the old man's hypocritical governess who covets his own inheritance.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: Hermann Picha, Rosa Valetti, André Mattoni
Faust (1926)
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

The demon Mephisto wagers with God that he can corrupt a mortal man's soul.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: Gösta Ekman, Emil Jannings, Camilla Horn
Vampyr (1932)
Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A drifter obsessed with the supernatural stumbles upon an inn where a severely ill adolescent girl is slowly becoming a vampire.

Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Stars: Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A blue-collar worker on New York's depressed waterfront finds his life changed after he saves a woman attempting suicide.

Director: Josef von Sternberg
Stars: George Bancroft, Betty Compson, Olga Baclanova
Zemlya (1930)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In the peaceful countryside, Vassily opposes the rich kulaks over the coming of collective farming.

Director: Aleksandr Dovzhenko
Stars: Stepan Shkurat, Semyon Svashenko, Yuliya Solntseva
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

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 »

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: Werner Krauss, Eugen Klöpfer, Vladimir Gajdarov
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The likeable and carefree Grand Duke of Abacco is in dire straits. There is no money left to service the State's debt; the main creditor is looking forward to expropriating the entire Duchy... See full summary »

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: Mady Christians, Harry Liedtke, Robert Scholtz
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A bookseller saves a tramp from drowning and shelters him, but the tramp's odd behavior starts to wear everyone down.

Director: Jean Renoir
Stars: Michel Simon, Marcelle Hainia, Sévérine Lerczinska
Sunrise (1927)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An allegorical tale about a man fighting the good and evil within him. Both sides are made flesh - one a sophisticated woman he is attracted to and the other his wife.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Stars: George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
Matahi Matahi ... The Boy
Anne Chevalier Anne Chevalier ... The Girl (as Reri)
Bill Bambridge Bill Bambridge ... The Policeman (as Jean)
Hitu Hitu ... The Old Warrior
Edit

Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 August 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tabu See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$150,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,028,960
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (R.C.A. Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of director F.W. Murnau. NOTE: He died in a car crash a few days before starting work on the film's music. It premiered in New York City a week after his death. See more »

Quotes

The Girl: [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.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Treibjagd in der Südsee (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

Nocturnes
(1827-46) (uncredited)
Written by Frédéric Chopin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Murnau's final film is a fitting reminder of his genius
9 April 2003 | by rkinslerSee all my reviews

For discerning fans of classic filmmaking, the surviving work of director F.W. Murnau remains some of the most significant and stunning of the silent era. Filmed entirely in Tahiti, `Tabu' would prove to be Murnau's last film (he died in a tragic car accident on March 11, 1931, just weeks before the film's premiere) and most unusual - he actually collaborated with director Robert Flaherty (`Nanook of the North') in this tale of two doomed lovers that unintentionally transports `Romeo and Juliet' into the South Pacific. Unlike his landmark expressionist titles such as `Nosferatu' and `Faust,' Murnau's `Tabu' is set mostly outdoors and features dazzling images of beautiful young native men and women at home in their Polynesian paradise in the first part of the film, with haunting images used to chronicle tragedy and paradise lost in the second half of the 81 minute classic.

Although no members of the cast were professional actors, the performances by Matahi (as a young pearl fisherman) and Reri (as the `tabu' island girl) are moving. More than 70 years after its release, `Tabu' remains essential viewing, and UCLA's restoration of this classic has been a highlight of the schedule of new DVD releases in 2002. In fact, the film's luxurious black-and-white cinematography garnered cameraman Floyd Crosby an Oscar. DVD extras include audio commentary by UCLA Film Professor Janet Bergstrom; outtake footage; theatrical trailer; still gallery; short film titled `Reri in New York.'


22 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 23 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching



Recently Viewed