Sunday, 5 December 2010

Flaherty's Moana (1926)

Lowry mentions Flaherty's Moana in his filmscript for Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night in a sequence where the character Dick Divers walks past cinemas on Broadway in New York where this film is showing.

Moana (1926) is a documentary film, the first docufiction in the history of cinema, directed by Robert J. Flaherty, the creator of Nanook of the North (1922). Moana was filmed in Samoa in the villages of Safune on the island of Savai'i. The name of the lead male character, moana means 'ocean' in the Samoan language.

In making the film, Flaherty lived with his wife and children in Samoa for more than a year. Flaherty arrived in Samoa in April 1923 and stayed until December 1924, with the film being completed in December 1925.

Savai’i, a Samoan island. Near the village of Safune, Moana pulls taro root from the ground and peels it while his betrothed Fa’angase bundles leaves, his mother Tu’ungaita carries mulberry sticks and his younger brother Pe’a helps them. Setting off for the village, they set a trap for wild boar, the forest’s only dangerous animal, which they subsequently capture. Moana, Fa’angase, and Pe’a go spear-fishing, along with Moana’s older brother Leupenga. Back in the village, Tu’ungaita makes back-cloth for a lavalava, a native dress. Pe’a binds his feet together and climbs a tree for coconuts, then starts a fire with coconut shells on the beach to cook a “robber-crab”. The group wrestle with a giant turtle and load it into their canoe; Fa’angase eats live fish. In the village. Tu’ungaita prepares a meal. Moana is anointed with oil before performing the siva dance with Fa’angase. Preparations are made for Moana’s tattooing by the tufunga (tattooer) and the villagers, and then the ceremony takes place. The village chief drinks kava and the dancing continues. In their hut, Moana’s father Tama and Tu’ungaita watch Pe’a sleeping; outside, Moana and Fa’angase perform their lively dance of betrothal. Read more on Jonathan


I was asked to post some more images from the film by a reader - here we go:

I have also managed to find an advert for the film showing on Broadway:

1 comment:

  1. Fa'agase was my Great Grand Mother who used to live in Safune, Savai'i...spent the last of her days in Laie, Hawaii...

    Beautiful you have any more from this documentary?