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Top Customer Reviews
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.
"Tabu" deservedly won a 1931 Oscar© for Best Cinematography. Sadly, Murnau died in a freak auto accident in the El Cajon pass a week before the New York premier.
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.
Over the course of nine months, drawing inspiration from the picturesque landscapes and people of the Tahitian islands, the filmmakers fashioned an emotionally rich story of romance between a young man and woman as civilization falls upon their primitive island. The film was originally released in a shortened and censored form. This restoration is Murnau’s approved version in its most complete form. Flaherty withdrew from the project when he and Murnau disagreed on the approach to the film. Flaherty wanted to shoot a straight documentary of native life, Murnau wanted a scripted film. Though made after the advent of sound, “Tabu” is essentially a silent picture with visuals telling the story, accompanied by an orchestral score.
Special features on the Blu-ray release include “The Language of Shadows: Tabu”, a 15-minute documentary on the making and restoration of the film; “Tabu: Takes and Outtakes,” 26 minutes of previously unseen sequences; “Tabu: A Work in Progress,” 15 minutes of raw camera footage, with narration; and “Hunt in the South Seas,” a 1940 ethnographic short compiled from unused footage from “Tabu.”
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, the Kino release doesn't have the commentary referred to in at least one of the other reviews. I consider that a drawback.Published 16 days ago by DJMan
There is "Totem and Tabu" by Sigmund Freud ... and there is also simply "tabu" by Friedrich Murnau. The difference? Almost nothing... Read morePublished 5 months ago by dimitriweb [this reviewer has been added to the top 10 (see more)]
Evidently, I am in the minority of reviewers who find this film outlandishly dated. The reviews are generally incredible...lavish South Sea Setting... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Clayton
Of the thirties of the last century, this story is of Bora-Bora Romeo and Juliet with a similar tragic end. Read morePublished on October 26, 2008 by Michael Kerjman
Sight and Sound, the BFI film monthly, reports that Murnau fell out with Flaherty over the latter's inability to sustain a dramatic narrative and respectively continued alone with... Read morePublished on May 14, 2008 by EDL
Like a number of Murnau's other films, this one too has a great feeling of being poetry in motion, a fluid form of art used to tell a story and express moods. Read morePublished on November 18, 2007 by Anyechka
Conceived as a joint project by docu-ethnographer Flaherty ("Nanook of the North") and German expressionist director Murnau ("The Last Laugh"), this poignant, beautifully... Read morePublished on June 21, 2007 by John Farr