Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (Murnau, 1931)

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (F.W. Murnau, 1931)

Well, I guess after making Sunrise and City Girl, it would be near impossible to keep that kind of momentum, so I shouldn’t be surprised I was disappointed in this. Pairing up (at least in part) with Robert J. Flaherty, Murnau went to remote location, used locals instead of professional actors, and immersed viewers into an unfamiliar culture. The problem is that Flaherty had already done this numerous times. With Tabu, Murnau uses mythology and forbidden love to tell the story of a boy and a girl who are desperate to be together. The setting is beautiful, and the local rituals and lifestyles interesting, but an all-out love story would have held my interest more. As it was, I can’t say I was really moved until the last series of scenes, which are still haunting me a day later. So while I can appreciate this film’s strengths, I don’t think it’s original enough to place it with Murnau’s masterpieces.  7.25/10

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