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American Experience: Hawaii's Last Queen
American Experience Hawaii's Last Queen
Actor: David McCullough (II); Anna Deavere Smith
Director: -
Genres: Educational, Documentary
NR     2006     0hr 56min

Studio: Wgbh Wholesale Release Date: 04/04/2006 Run time: 60 minutes


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Movie Details

Actor: David McCullough (II); Anna Deavere Smith
Director: -
Genres: Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Educational, Biography, History, Politics
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/04/2006
Original Release Date: 01/27/1997
Theatrical Release Date: 01/27/1997
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 0hr 56min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A story of creeping annexation
Charles Ashbacher | Marion, Iowa United States( | 12/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"A glance at the globe will immediately tell you the strategic importance of the Hawaiian Island chain. It is the only significant landmass for thousands of miles between the Western Hemisphere and the Polynesian islands of the Western Pacific. Therefore, to control the Pacific shipping routes, you must control Hawaii. Of all the island groups in the Pacific, the Hawaiian islanders would have been the most capable of resisting foreign invaders. With approximately 800,000 inhabitants and the advantage of distance from any other land, it would have been difficult to impossible for the islands to have been invaded and conquered before the twentieth century. Nevertheless, in 1893 Lili'uokalani, the reigning Queen of Hawaii, yielded her throne to a group of 162 American soldiers. From this point on, Hawaii was a territory of the United States. The story of how Hawaii became a U. S. possession is interesting, sad and a lesson in annexation and control coming about in small stages.
It started with the arrival of a group of American missionaries, whose goal was to Christianize the Hawaiians. They were welcomed, and at first they added to the Hawaiian culture. The missionaries helped establish a written Hawaiian language, and brought new techniques of science and medicine to the islands. However, they also brought Western diseases that wrecked havoc among the native Hawaiians. By the time the United States took control of the islands, there was less than 100,000 native Hawaiians left. The white missionaries also began to gain economic control of the economy of the islands and from this developed the conviction that they were personally destined to control the islands.
The primary event that led to white economic control was when the United States allowed Hawaiian sugar to enter duty free. This led to the creation of vast sugar plantations and this in combination with the decline in the number of native Hawaiians, caused the plantation owners to import large numbers of laborers from China and Japan. This further diluted the power of the monarch and expanded the economic power of the whites.
The whites formed secret societies that plotted to gain control of the islands. When the United States government decided to eliminate the duty free status of Hawaiian sugar, the plantation owners determined that annexation by the United States was the only way they could avoid financial ruin. They took over the government by force and imprisoned Lili'uokalani. It is one of the ironies of history that this was the overthrow of a government that was democratically elected and a mixed race society with little in the way of racial tensions. By this time, the number of native Hawaiians was relatively small and Lili'uokalani refused to allow resistance by force. Therefore, the conquest was easy and bloodless.
Lili'uokalani was a very talented individual, she composed several pieces of music, including "Aloha Oui." It is a sad tale to see the Hawaiian culture reduced and this tape is a lesson in history when the mighty do what they wish to the weak.
Wounded knee without the bloodshed
Charles Ashbacher | 08/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"American Imperialism, christianity, and white dominance over darker skinned peoples--all are shown in their true colors in this film. This is a film for people of all ages, ethnicities, religions, and gender to see. But particularly learn that America is not always the beautiful; the learn how our wealth was too often squandered on the backs of native peoples; and the learn that christianity is more often than not a perversion of what was intended 2,000 years ago.Those more interested in entertainment than education will still enjoy the film. It tells a moving and interesting story of a woman who saved her people by sacrificing her government and her role as a monarch."
Missionaries are evil.
R. Jones | Laguna Beach, CA United States | 09/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Extremely educational. After watching it is difficult to understand how the decendants of these missionaries (or any), can sleep at night. Unasnwered in the video are the obvious questions of why the U.S. government hasn't apologized, and shouldn't the families of these missionaries who own the stolen Hawaiian land be forced to donate it to the public or to those with a certain percentage of Hawiian blood? Despite these questions, the video is moving, educational and extremely depressing. Sort of leaves you feeling so not proud to be an American, and even more ashamed of the Christian missionaries who stole the Hawaiian land and took occupation and finally imprisoned an old, peaceful woman to steal her power. The only mystery really is how that missionary grandson featured in the video can actually defend the actions of his ancestors and still look into the camera. Or for that matter, how he actually sleeps at night. it leaves you repulsed."
On Hawaii's Last Queen
Lilian Y. Yamasaki | Honolulu, HI | 06/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a useful resource for teachers of Modern Hawaiian History, a required high school course in the state of Hawaii. Well-documented and presented, it provides a compelling discussion of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy through the life of its last queen."