Admittedly difficult to stay entertained having been spoilt by the talkies, but the exotic setting and imaginative mix of soundtrack and picture was beguiling enough to give it a chance. Upon that, the classic star-crossed lovers narrative, and just a pinch of novelty on account of its age left me glad to have watched it.
Great movie, beautifully shot with a fun and fitting sound track. Love and beauty in the tropics, with waterfall frolics, pearls, sharks and flowers galore. With the fearsome tabu running underneath the whole time.....What's gonna happen? More paradise? Or peril..... Watch and see!
Murnau has such a command over his images, be it for a complicated story or a simple story, he knows exactly what to do at each moment to give his films the appropriate richness (Sunrise is another example, and Faust, well, that transcends critique being so perfectly detailed..). Murnau is someone I want to dedicate my film life to studying, he will most assuredly point me in the correct direction as I grow.
Incredible. Thank you, MUBI, for bringing us a film I didn't even know existed. The plot is a magnificent conflict between community-oriented living with its lack of emphasis on individual wants, and "modern" free market society with its emphasis on individual achievement. Beautiful cinematography. A great lesson in how much dialogue is superfluous. Running barefoot on those volcanic rock beaches takes tough soles!
Following the tradition of Nanook of the North, Tabu inadvertently functions as kind of cool "documentary" footage, in the sense that this is what white people in the early twentieth century thought of indigenous Pacific Islanders. I read somewhere that Murnau had a crush on the lead actor? Shake those coconuts.
Sunrise and Faust may be better by a hair, but this is perhaps the truest film to Murnau's "vision", given the almost complete lack of intertitles. I enjoyed how the only intertitles we see are through notes and letters the characters were writing. Very inventive. What a master. 4.5 stars.
Told with gentleness and conviction, never wasting a single second. Reaches the singularity of colonial exploitation turning into a genuine attempt at reparation. This, for me, is what the director should be known for: a willingness to carefully, dramatically realize some key Bazinian fantasies without taming the harsh edge of the modern. Silent storytelling at its finest.
Murnau died a week before Tabu premiered, and who knows how he would've adjusted to sound? He didn't even like using title cards, let alone dialogue. But he was a master of archetypes, and what a visual wonder Tabu is. The composition and movement make the frame feel teeming with life. Pre-modern superstition and a modern economy both have their strict rules—be careful trying to defy them.