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 decreein... more »g 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.« less
Robin Simmons | Palm Springs area, CA United States | 10/31/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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.
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."
TABU - A Story of the South Seas
HILTON | AUSTRALIA | 08/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tabu was Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's last film. This director is perhaps best known today for his 1922 "NOSFERATU" the early Dracula film.Although produced in the early 1930's the film was shot in silent mode (music added later). This allowed the film to be shot on location, and allowed some brilliant cinematography not usually seen in this period of film making as the combined camera and microphones for the "talkies" were big, heavy, clumsy and relatively "static".The film is rather slow at the start. I believe this was due to a conflict in creative control between the producer and director, Murnau.However the pace picks up as the simple tale is told, and even the "modern viewer" will find the build up to the climax of the film very engaging.What makes this a "stand out" movie is the cinematography. The "lovers" are always seen projected as "larger than life" against their lesser mortals and the landscape. There is a wonderful use of light and dark. The composition of some of the shots is just stunning, for example the "old man" sailing away with the young girl in a sailboat upon a limitless sea. I have been very lucky to see this film on a large cinema screen; I am not sure how this would translate to the small screen. But I think that it would be difficult not to appreciate the magnificence of Murnau's artistry!Alas, Marnau was killed in a car accident after returning to Hollywood from location, just two weeks prior to the film's opening."
One of the 10 Best Silent Films
Curtis Allan | Seattle, WA | 01/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
The last great silent movie
Jonathan Lapin | Brooklyn, NY USA | 11/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"apart from charlie chaplin, this was the last major movie of the silent era. set in a purportedly idyllic south seas, it began as a rare collaboration between directors f. w. murnau ("nosferatu") and robert flaherty ("nanook of the north") -- tho the end product was way more murnau than flaherty. a saga of forbidden love, mixed with skin, it is both fascinating curiosity and enduring classic. i would recommend this movie to anyone seriously interested in motion picture history -- but it IS a special bit of cuisine, not for people who think "crash" is a masterpiece."
nom-de-nick | United States | 09/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's somehow fitting that Murnau's last film was as great a masterpiece as Nosferatu and Sunrise. As has been said countless times, the photography is absolutrelky stunning, and the story, even though highly simplistic and told with zero dialogue, holds your attention all the way through. The extras and outtakes are interesting as well. This is one of those films you can read about, but really have to experience. Don't wait."