1931 / 86m - USA
Adventure, Romance
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas poster


January 26, 2023


Murnau's final film. What separates Tabu from films of its time is the exotic setting (filmed on location too). It's a nice little perk, but it's also a bit cheesy and it feels a little exploitative. It's certainly not the worst film though, thanks to proper pacing and a pleasant romance that forms the heart of the film.

Matahi is a pearl diver on Bora Bora. He falls in love with Reri, the two are clearly made for each other. But then someone from a neighboring island arrives and brands Reri a holy virgin, meaning no man is allowed to touch or be with her. Reri and Matahi flee the island to save their love.

I was happy to see Tabu wasn't filmed on a set, but the early filming equipment doesn't do justice to its exotic environment. The plot is relatively simple and the romance is very expected, but the short runtime makes it bearable. Not the best Murnau, but I'd expected worse going in.