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Tabu:Story/South Seas

Anne Chevalier , Matahi , F.W. Murnau    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Conceived by two master filmmakers, but essentially made by only one, Tabu is the last great silent film (released four years into the talkie era). Few classics have had a more fraught history, starting with the dicey notion of combining the radically different approaches of documentarist Robert Flaherty and supernaturalist F.W. Murnau. After selecting the South Seas locations, collaborating on the story, and doing some preliminary photography, Flaherty withdrew, leaving Murnau to realize this tale of forbidden love and implacable retribution in an earthly paradise. The results, ravishing to behold, complete a spiritual trilogy begun with Nosferatu (1921-22) and Sunrise (1927), Murnau's other films of young couples drawn asunder by phantoms. Floyd Crosby won an Academy Award® for his cinematography. The director himself was killed in a car wreck just before his film was released. All the more tragic that Murnau's original, uncut version was never seen till Milestone Film & Video's restoration in 1990. --Richard T. Jameson

Product Description

Filmed entirely in Tahiti, "Tabu" represents an unusual collaboration between legendary directors F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu, Sunrise) and Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North). Two lovers are doomed by a tribal edict decreeing that the girl is "tabu" to all men. While the lovers' flight from judgment and the ultimate power of the tabu are reminiscent of Murnau's expressionist films, "Tabu" is all open air and sunlight, sparkling on the ocean and glistening on the beautiful young bodies of the native men and women. Now available completely uncensored and restored by UCLA, this cinematic landmark is one of the most gorgeous black and white films ever made, and was the 1931 Academy Award winner for Best Cinematography.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars He who confronts the gods... Jan. 2 2004
By Eva25at
Format:DVD
PARADISE: Life on the south-sea island Bora Bora is carefree and unaffected by the covetousness of western civilization. The natives fish, frolic about and adorn themselves with flowers and pearls. They treat the passengers of a sailing ship with friendly advance. Hitu, a messenger from a neighborng island comes on a special mission: take home a virgin for the gods: Reri is the chosen - men must not touch her: she is tabu. To break this tabu means death. The natives celebrate this occasion, but Reri and her lover Matahi are desperate. They elope this same night. The entire island is in an uproar.
PARADISE LOST: The lovers reach an island of the pearl trade. Matahi is a born diver and works for the white man. He and Reri enjoy their life to the full. They meet natives who adjusted themselves to wheeler-dealers and mixed racial relations. Matahi treats his buddies to champagne. He does not know the value of money. He signs many promissory notes...The government tries to avoid a conflict between the islands. They set 500 francs on Reri's head, but Matahi bribes the head-hunter with a pearl. Hitu sends Reri a note on a banana-leaf: If she does not return with him in three days Matahi will die. They plan to escape to Tapeete, but when Matahi tries to buy the tickets, the man with the promissory notes calls in his "debt". Hitu comes for Reri, he knows no mercy. She writes Matahi a farewell letter. With the courage of despair, Matahi dives in a lagoon marked: "tabu". Every diver dies here, because a man-eating shark guards the pearls...
Murnau's last work, a poetic mix between feature film and ethnographic study was filmed entirely in the south seas. Only native-born islanders appear in this film. The famous nature-filmmaker R. J.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great filmmaking. Dec 11 2002
Format:DVD
The last film directed by German director F. W. Murnau, before his untimely death in 1931, this is a stunning snapshot of life in the South Sea isles, featuring an authentically Polynesian (and Asian) cast, dominated by a gorgeous village of Tahitian hunks and babes. The cinematography is stunning, but the glimpse into this lost tribal life -- even to the extent that it's a culturally mediated, Europeanized view -- is fascinating. Apparently Murnau and his co-director, documentarian Robert Flaherty, had a falling-out over the direction of the film, and Murnau took the project over. Can't imagine what the tiff was over, but I suppose it doesn't matter, since the end result was such a great film. Although it's a silent picture, some traditional Tahitian music is mixed into the soundtrack, and the folk dancing -- what little of it we see -- is pretty cool, too. I don't know how much training the actors had, but the guy who plays the lead character Matahi, is super-charismatic on screen, and a very good silent actor. Wonder if he did much else after this?
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4.0 out of 5 stars RADIANT BEINGS TEMPT FATE IN SILVER LIGHT Oct. 30 2002
Format:DVD
Among the more beautiful places on our small planet, the South Pacific has long been deemed a living paradise and a favorite destination of lovers and adventurers since the beginning of human history. It has also generated and inspired musicians, artists, writers and filmmakers.
Filmed in 1929 entirely on location on the magical island of Bora Bora, "TABU" is a collaboration between legendary directors F.W. Murnau ("Nosferatu," "Faust" and "Sunrise") and the great drama-based documentarian Robert Flaherty ("Nanook of the North"). Like Romeo and Juliet, young fisherman Matahi and beautiful Reri are two island lovers damned by a tribal mandate declaring the girl off-limits or "tabu" to all eligible males. The young couple run away, but discover that so-called civilization (remember, it's 1929 Tahiti) is not to be their salvation.
This beautiful film literally glows. The drama of destiny and fate is played out by half-naked young bodies that move through the silver light that radiates, reflects and refracts everywhere. It vibrates in the dappled shadows of tropical foliage and dances on the sparkling lagoons, pristine waterfalls and unpolluted beaches.
"Tabu" deservedly won a 1931 Oscar© for Best Cinematography. Sadly, Murnau died in a freak auto accident in the El Cajon pass a week before the New York premier.
This digital edition, thanks to UCLA restoration, is the first time since its original release that "Tabu" has been available in a complete and uncensored print. Significant extras include a surprisingly intriguing audio commentary by UCLA Film Professor Janet Bergestrom, a still gallery, outtake footage, original theatrical trailer and the short film "Reri in New York." Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Art imitates Life Sept. 25 2002
Format:DVD
Image Entertainment has just released the new,uncensored DVD of 1931's "Tabu", the final effort from the complex, multi-layered genius, F.W. Murnau. Filmed entirely in Bora, Bora, a shimmering beach paradise near Tahiti, "Tabu" is a tropical "Romeo and Juliet", Murnau's dark tone poem to doomed love. "Tabu" completes the Murnau canon("Nosferatu", "Faust" and the highly regarded "Sunrise"). While filming "Tabu" in distant Tahiti in 1929, Murnau could not have known that silent films were over. He could not have known that his life and career would soon sadly end. Just 7 days before the New York premiere, his car lost control on the El Cajon grade north of Santa Barbara. Murnau's cinema spoke of tragedy and fate. He could not have known that as Art imitates Life, sometimes Life imitates Art..
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