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Waltzing with Brando: Planning a Paradise in Tahiti Paperback – May 10, 2011
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Waltzing with Brando: Planning a Paradise in Tahiti (Paperback) By Bernard Judge (Author)
Anyone interested in Marlon Brando as an actor and person would enjoy reading this book.
"Waltzing With Brando" is the story of that decades long adventure - a trip that required great amounts of research, planning and execution to achieve its idealistic dream (it is complete with ample photos of the region, diagrams of the project, and pictures of the people referenced in the twisting and turning story line of the book.) Today it seems so simple, but back in the early 70's the islands were much less developed with far fewer resorts and only the first glimmer of commercial air service coming to the region.
To this day, most of the world's population probably doesn't even know about Brando's resort, though those who have ventured to the South Pacific and begin to ask questions about the outlying regions (the Tuamotos, Rangoria, etc...) eventually get wind of the locale. The story of the planning and building - from the initial runway to being in supplies and visitors, to the building of the resort itself, to a hurricane wipe out and an eventual rebuild - is both a detailed love affair between the inhabitants and the geography as well as the inner workings of the project and even the partners themselves. Throughout, there are the stories of the fun times, the women and the many, often strenuous factors that affect living in such a remote location.
For those who have traveled to this region, "Waltzing" makes for a fascinating history of a microcosm of this French Polynesian paradise. For anyone thinking about vacationing there, (the resort is under new management and is currently in the midst of another rebuild) this adventure story makes for a great way to prepare to glean an even greater understanding of your visit in advance.
Since the mid-1970's I've been fascinated by the subject of Marlon Brando's efforts to do something creative with his private island paradise, the Tahitian atoll of Tetiaroa. Although I live in Hawaii, even here information about what exactly he was doing at the time was both sparse and sporadic. I had met a professor at the University of Hawaii who was conducting scientific atoll research there, but he didn't seem to have much personal interaction with the Brando. "Waltzing with Brando" takes you back to the beginning of the story, and does so from the perspective of Brando's co-creator of his Tetiaroa dream. It is entertainingly written, and provides the reader with great insight into the personality and life of a singularly unique American personality.
As great an actor as Brando was -- and many consider him the greatest American film actor ever -- Brando never defined himself by that career choice. Although he felt strongly about and fought long and courageously for broader recognition of the plight of Native Americans, by far his greatest passion in life was his love for Tetiaroa and the Tahitian people. That love permeates every page of Bernard Judge's book, and makes the journey, almost an adventure story, that much more enriching and poignant.
Whether you have an interest in one man's South Pacific dream, or an interest in Marlon Brando the actor, this book will fascinate. It is actually the joint story of an inveterate dreamer and another man's efforts to turn those dreams into reality. A truly delightful read that includes the author's wonderful photography and conceptual renderings which greatly enhance the reader's journey, this late 1960's / early 1970's saga is a rewarding one. Should the reader want to learn more about this unusual tale, a good companion piece (the only other one that I am aware of) is Roger Vergin's "Brando with His Guard Down" (1997), a book written by the individual that entered Brando's Tetiaroa project at about the time that Judge leaves it. Not as well written as Judge's book, but still a very interesting read to those who find this faraway and unique South Sea island story fascinating.