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Q'orianka Kilcher (The New World) stars as Princess Ka'iulani, the bright and beautiful heir to the Hawaiian throne in this epic true story. Following an idyllic childhood in Honolulu, the willful teenage princess is sent to Britain to receive an education fit for a future queen. There, she meets the handsome young Clive Davies (Shaun Evans), who quickly sweeps her off her feet. But meanwhile, destiny calls back home, as supporters of U.S. annexation overthrow the royal Hawaiian government. Now, Ka'iulani must choose between love and her duty to her people in this sweeping tale of royalty, romance and destiny.
Princess Kaiulani is a moving film that's part romantic epic, part historical period piece. But mostly it's a portrait of how a frightened young girl grew into an extraordinary woman. The film begins in 1889, when civil unrest unseated Hawaii's royal family and the Hawaiian people began a struggle to maintain their independence and right of self-governance, and when the 13-year-old princess Ka'iulani (Q'orianka Kilcher), who was next in line for the Hawaiian throne, was exiled to England to ensure her safety. Shot on location in both England and Hawaii by indie director Marc Forby, this breathtakingly beautiful film follows Ka'iulani as she is plopped down in a foreign world that looks upon Hawaiians as barbarians and where her royal heritage counts for virtually nothing. Princess Ka'iulani, or "Victoria," as the English often call her, endures harsh treatment at the hands of both teachers and students at boarding school, but she refuses to crumble, carrying on with a strength and quiet resolve that's powerfully portrayed by Kilcher. As Ka'iulani matures, she falls in love with Englishman Clive Davies (Shaun Evans) and becomes engaged. Just as Ka'iulani's happiness seems assured, her father visits her in England, bringing with him serious news: her uncle, King Kalakaua (Ocean Kaowili), has died unexpectedly after having been forced to adopt a constitution in conflict with the best interests of the Hawaiian people, and Ka'iulani's aunt Liliu'okalani (Leo Anderson Akana), who ascended to the throne, has subsequently been put under house arrest and removed from power. Incensed by the grave injustices inflicted upon her people, Princess Ka'iulani is propelled by her inherent sense of duty to sacrifice her own potential happiness. She journeys first to America, where she eloquently pleads with outgoing president Grover Cleveland for his help, and later to Hawaii, where she fights for her people's rights in person. Princess Kaiulani is a powerful film, and what comes across so strongly is not just the often-overlooked perspective of the native Hawaiian people regarding America's annexation of Hawaii and the cultural consequences of that annexation, but the truly heroic acts of Hawaii's extraordinary Princess Ka'iulani. --Tami Horiuchi
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