Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (318/1001)

Film 318 in the ‘1001 Films to See Before You Die’ challenge is 1931’s “Tabu: A Story of the South Seas”. Directed by FW Murnau, this silent romantic adventure drama is about a young couple whos love for each other is threatened when the tribal chief of Bora Bora declares the girl a sacred virgin. This would be Murnau’s final film he directed before he died in an automobile accident getting his driver’s license. The plot of this film was not made very clear. First of all, no one in this film has a name. In the opening credits, they are just referred to as “man” and “woman”. Not very helpful when you’re trying to figure out who the main characters are. Second, this film looks like it was made on a budget. Everyone is either wearing bath towels, bed sheets or blankets. Finally, it wasn’t made clear what Reri’s role was. She’s just there being miserable and sad. And we’re supposed to like her? How can we like someone who doesn’t contribute to the plot at all! She reminds me of Princess Elise from the 2006 ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ game. Has no relevance to the plot and does nothing when she’s on camera. Apart from those things, I’m drawing a complete blank on this film. Overall, you won’t remember this film after you’ve watched it. I managed roughly 25 minutes before I started to fall asleep. Time Out Film Guide had this to say about the film, “An exceptionally sensuous play of light, rhythm and composition”. Fun Fact of the Film – Anne Chevalier was casted for this film after FW Murnau discovered her in a cocktail bar while scouting for locations. If you have seen this film then let me know what you thought of it in the comments. Here is what I managed to say while watching 1931’s “Tabu: A Story of the South Seas”


Film – Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
Year – 1931
Director – F.W. Murnau
Written by – F.W. Murnau, Robert J. Flaherty
Staring – Anne Chevalier, Matahi, Hitu
IMDb Rating – 7.6/10
My Rating – ZZZZZzzzzz
Length – 80 min  (1h 20min)
Genre – Drama, Romance, Adventure


Great! No one in his film has any names

Part One – Paradise

We open with a man throwing stick into the ocean fishing

Fishing over! Now to sunbathe in a waterfall

Look! A daisy chain! There’s someone on top of this waterfall

There is indeed! A group of girls who all swim away when the men arrive

Are waterfalls meant to be used as slides?

She’s clearly wearing a towel for a dress

And we have ourselves a fight in the river

How to separate a fight between two women in this film – Throw one of them down a waterfall

Where did he get that leaf load of daisies from?

And that flirting has cost her as she’s been kidnapped by this group of tribal men

He made climbing trees look really easy

Look! A unknown boat! LET’S ATTACK IT!

Wait… They seriously drag their kids into battles?!?

One child is left on Bora Bora with a tiny pig as the main character (i think) rows back to get him

Everyone else boards the ship and are met by a monk

Wait… So they are all friends?

So… They plan to kill Reri because she’s a virgin! Erm… Why are we killing her?

These scripts we’re reading make no sense!

So… Reri is now Tabu?!?

This film is clearly made on a budget as this monk is clearly only wearing bed sheets and the girls are all wearing towels

I don’t understand what’s happening

Reri, or Tabu, I don’t know now, is crying as she doesn’t want to die

That man have some very saggy man boobs

Cut to the main character asleep while his son tries to wake him up

Is the rest of this film just a ceremony about Reri? Sure feels like it



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