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André Laurence accompanies his college roommate, Tenga, back to Tenga's Polynesian island home. There, André assumes the native life and, after many trials with the native customs and their suspicions, marries his friend's sister, Kalua. Their marriage is barren of children. A final blow to André comes with the eruption of a volcano, and the island's holy man, the Kahuna, decides that the volcano can only be appeased with the sacrifice of Kalua.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
It is not only a beautiful film; it has authenticity
When I first saw "Bird of Paradise", I was an adolescent and I saw it on television as a not-so-recent movie. I already had a crush on Debra Paget from having seen her as Morning Star in "Broken Arrow." I was also a bit enamoured with her sister, Lisa Gaye as Collette DuBois on "the Bob Commings Show." But I figured that sooner or later I would get over my adolescent infatuation with the exotic characters these sister actresses were playing and eventually I'd settle down, marry a white bread woman, and get an office job like my father.
Now it is 40 years later and I have spent the vast majority of that time serving, studying, and teaching in Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan. I never got over my infatuation with exotic, non-white bread women. I now have two masters degrees. When getting my masters in Far East Asian Studies, each time I described one more aspect of the "Bird of Paradise" wedding to a colleague whose specialty was the study of Bali culture, he gasped, "That's just like it is in Bali!"
"Jeff Chandler explains to Louis Jordon, 'You must come at night and steal her.' 'But I thought her parents approved of the marriage.' 'They do. But if they freely let her go, it would mean they don't love her and it would be an insult to her.' 'OK, I come and steal her. And we run away together.' 'No. She will scream and fight you.' 'But she loves me and wants to marry me.' 'Yes. But if she goes with you freely, it would mean she doesn't love her parents and it would be an insult.' 'OK. I steal her. She screams and fights me. And I take her away.' 'Yes. But you have to carry her and run fast because I as her brother will grab my spear and alert all the other men in the village and we will try to find you, catch you, and kill you. If we didn't, it would mean we don't care about her and it would be an insult. But don't worry. You will escape and take her to your secret place.' 'What secret? You and the young men of the village helped me build it.' 'Well, on that night, we won't be able t find it. We will get close but we won't find it. And we will be very angry about that and make angry noises all night. That will be your wedding night music.'
Even more than she is in "Broken Arrow", Debra Paget is devoted to her white husband. Someone who when asked if she is ready to jump into the erupting volcano will say, "I have loved and been loved. I am ready." I never did find a woman as fully exotic and as completely devoted to me as the image radiated by Debra Paget in "Broken Arrow," "Bird of Paradise," "Demetrius and the Gladiators," and "The Ten Commandments." But I have been living with the same Asian woman for 31 years. And I am happy.
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