Sunday, December 20, 2009

54. TABU (1931)

Running Time: 81 minutes
Directed By: F.W. Murnau
Written By: Robert J. Flaherty, F.W. Murnau
Main Cast: Reri, Matahi, Hitu, Jean, Jules, Ah Kong, Anne Chevalier


While "Sunrise" was a fantastic film and one that I enjoyed immensely, the rest of Murnau's work that I've had to view by watching the movies in this book were average at best, and "Tabu" was downright awful.

The film starts out with a bunch of South Sea islanders on the isle of Bora Bora having a good time, hunting, fishing and basically living their lives, as they would on any other normal day. One day, one of the islanders meets and falls in love with Reri. His name is Matahi and soon after he meets Reri, some terrible news comes to the small island...terrible for the two lovers that is. The Tribal Elders arrive from the surrounding islands and inform the Bora Borans that their "maid to the Gods" has passed away and a new "chosen one" must be quickly found as her replacement. Reri is chosen and the ground rules are laid down: if any man so much as casts a lustful eye at her, they are to be punished by death. Bad news for Matahi.

On the day she is set to leave for her new island home, Matahi rescues her and together the flee the island and arrive at a French colony where Matahi is quickly recognized as a fantastic diver. He is also quickly appointed as the colony's top pearl diver and finally the love birds are happy together, without the watchful eye of the Island Elders. But soon, Hitu (the leader of the Island Elders) finds them, and offers Reri a chance to come back with him, while allowing Matahi to keep his life. She has only three days to say her farewells, and if in this time, she does not give herself up, Matahi will be killed and Reri will be taken back to the islands and become the "maid to the Gods".

I had a really hard time getting into this one, as we trekked back to silent cinema. Not that I have a problem with silent films, I just wasn't expecting to go back there all of a sudden. The opening and approximately the first twenty minutes was all island shots, with the islanders dancing around and playing and really doing a whole lot of nothing, except wasting valuable film space that could've been used on something more constructive. The middle and end picked up a little bit, as the love story began to get a bit emotional and I was starting to feel it, but it was too little, too late and I have to give this one the big thumbs down.

RATING: 1/10 Sorry Murnau, but I had to go with the lowest rating possible. I have a hard time believing that this movie was included in this book for its quality, and an easier time believing it was included as an homage to Muranu's final work.

NEXT UP: Dracula...Bela Lugosi in his most famous role, and Tod Browning directs...I'm excited! I'm probably gonna' spend the rest of tonight and all day tomorrow watching some movies that I got as early Christmas presents, but I'll be right back on the horse Monday, so stay tuned!

December 19, 2009 11:15pm


  1. Are we the only people to have sat through this, hence no comments?
    I'd go up to about 2, maybe, but now, some 6 months after seeing it, I can hardly remember much of it part from watching the clock...

  2. I don't remember who it was (it wasn't here) but someone really got on me about the rating of 1/10 and argued that they loved the movie. I found no interesting qualities in it, and like you, can barely remember it.


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