Tabu: A Story of the South Seas

Digital Restoration

  • Portrait of Bruce Loeb
    On Piano

Matahi, Anne Chevalier, Bill Bambridge, Hitu,

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In 1929 both Robert J. Flaherty, America’s leading documentarist, and the great studio director F. W. Murnau were ready to quit Hollywood, where they had been ill-used. Murnau invited Flaherty to collaborate on a film to be shot in Tahiti. Jeffrey Scheftel wrote for UCLA Film Archives, “The story was . . . simple: about the love of a sun-bronzed Tahitian fisherman for a young woman whose body has been consecrated to the gods, rendering her tabu as far as mortal men are concerned. Even in this idyllic setting, the filmmakers had their differences. Murnau felt that the codification of taboos by the childlike inhabitants of this land was what he wanted to capture. Flaherty thought that the story should depict the impact of civilization on a primitive society. . . . In the end, Flaherty sold his interest in the film to Murnau. . . . Murnau finished the film, and it was his particular knack for the rhythms of editing, and the lyricism and simplicity of tone he achieved, that made Tabu the masterpiece it is.”

  • F. W. Murnau
  • Robert J. Flaherty
  • Floyd Crosby
  • Silent
  • with English intertitles
Print Info
  • B&W
  • DCP
  • Silent
  • 86 mins
  • Kino Lorber