On the lush, idyllic South Seas island of Bora Bora, hunky, joyous fisherman Matahi (Matahi) and native girl Reri (Chevalier) are madly in love. But their love becomes "taboo" when the indigenous ruler of the islands issues an edict declaring her to be a child of the gods.
Why we love it
Conceived as a joint project by docu-ethnographer Flaherty (“Nanook of the North”) and German expressionist director Murnau (“The Last Laugh”), this poignant, beautifully photographed Oscar winner has few rivals in the silent era. Shot on location in the Pacific and helmed mostly by Murnau, its story of forbidden love resonated with audiences in the early 30s, just as a wave of the first talkies came ashore, and remains absorbing today. All the actors are Polynesian locals, which enhances the romanticized vision of blissful island life. But the flight from authority and visitation of fate in the form of an old holy man are as classic and tragic as Greek myth.