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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)
Price: CDN$ 134.29
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Product Description


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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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the 10 Best Silent Films Jan. 25 2004
I will go against the grain of conventional opinion and admit that this is my favorite Murnau film. I think it was the influence of Robert Flaherty (in regard to location, subject matter, & casting) that put it over the top. But make no mistakes, this is Murnau's film. Amidst this cast and backdrop, Murnau brought his technique (the artful expression of narrative thru film images) to its most perfect form. There are barely any intertitles in this film; the pictures speaks almost completely without them. And here in Tahiti Murnau's fascination with the supernatural found poignancy in the exploration of the Tabu of the native islanders. Add to that romance and dancing scenes that are tantalizingly pure and delightful, and in my humble opinion you have Murnau's finest work.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Why not 5 stars? Jan. 9 2004
I really like this film and I appreciate the scholarly approach of the DVD. But with all that, why was not the intregrity of the of the original format -- the frame -- considered more relevant when the transfer was made to the DVD format. Compare the scenes on original trailer on the DVD to the same ones in the movie and you'll see that part of the picture is missing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars He who confronts the gods... Jan. 2 2004
By Eva25at
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 Taking it in context. Jan. 12 2003
Considering there is the temptation to regard any film created by Murnau as genius, I have to admit initially feeling just a little underwhelmed by TABU. It's simplicity did not seem nearly as shaded as in other of the master's great works. That is, until I heard the commentary that accompanied a short collection of out takes from the film, included in the DVD. Somehow, hearing the story of this film's convuluted production, of Flaherty's angst, and, especially, of Murnau's own disregard for taboo when building his Tahitian reTreat, added gravity that made the viewing experience completely satisfying. (The short on Reri, the 16 year old 'barefoot contessa" was equally as fascinating.) Now we all look forward to the imminent release of SUNRISE.
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