7.6/10
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23 user 46 critic

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931)

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

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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
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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:

TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 August 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Tabu See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$150,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (R.C.A. Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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 Histoire(s) du cinéma: Seul le cinéma (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony 'Má vlast'
(1874-79) (uncredited)
Written by Bedrich Smetana
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User Reviews

 
Unique and beautiful.
3 June 1999 | by David AtfieldSee all my reviews

There has never been another film like "Tabu". This is a unique blending of ethnographic documentary and expressionist drama, from two directors who were masters of these forms.

The actors are real Polynesians and their ceremonies and rituals are faithfully captured, and interwoven with a tragic love story. The cinematography deservedly won an Oscar - it is truly beautiful. Murnau, away from his usual studio sets, manages to create the same sense of danger using natural light - especially moonlight - and real locations.

The performances are very strong - especially Chevalier as the girl, and the old man is as scary as Nosferatu as he haunts her dreams at night.

Sadly this was Murnau's last film - he died in a car crash just before the premiere. It is a little dramatically uneven, and certainly not the masterpiece that "Sunrise" is, but it is still very worthwhile.


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