1931, TSPDT Rank #227
Tabu won an Oscar for Best Cinematography in 1931, and credit should definitely be given in this area because the cinematography is very good. The movie itself is somewhat a retread of Murnau's earlier film Sunrise, only set in the South Sea Islands, all the parts played by actual islanders and a much less compelling plot. I think the collaboration with Flaherty was what caused this film to misfire. These are two people with almost nothing in common as filmmakers except that they were both somewhat disillusioned with the world of Hollywood. Murnau is the sole director of the film (the two co-wrote the film), but a lot of Flaherty's influence seeps in. Actually, the film is probably at its best at the beginning when Flaherty's type of documentary-like view of the islanders and their lives and the great cinematography blend together before Murnau's heavy-handed romantic tragedy begin. I definitely wouldn't recommend the film, but for fans of Murnau or Flaherty, or those wishing to see beautiful images of the South Seas, it might be worth a look.