It's been a little while since I've managed to post of these themed posts up. Heading to the South Pacific for a tragic love story based on real events.
Technically Tanna is a co-production of Australia and Vanuatu, just so its on the record. Having been nominated for Best Foreign film at the Oscars and sadly loosing out on the prize, the film still earned positive attention for being beautifully shot on Tanna, an island in the South Pacific and the real tribes people of the island acting in the film. The story has been compared to Romeo and Juliet and only in a small way do these two reflect each other. Wawa and Dain are from the same tribe and are determined to be together no matter what the cost may be.
The story is indeed based on real events about a couple, back in 1987, who wanted to marry for love but were forbidden to, due to the laws and customs of their tribe. Wawa and Dain are in love but after an on-going feud with neighbouring tribes comes to a head, peace is brokered and Wawa's is given away as an act of peace. The couple decides to run away together, leaving behind the feuding tribes to hunt them down.
The film is fascinating on many levels, as it seems to questions a few topics that are discussed within the film and are obvious ones that you might expect. The filmmakers Martin Butler and Bentley Dean spent months with the Yakel tribe, working with them and collaborating with them on the story. The actors in film are mostly from the tribes on the island and the film is better for it. The tribes are wonderfully fascinating to witness, especially the ceremonies that are depicted on screen. The lead lovers, Wawa and Dain are elegant in their courtship, proving that innocent hand holding and deep loving glances can be more meaningful that some of the tripe that comes out of Hollywood.
Visually, the film is beyond beautiful, the views seem like they could stretch for miles when in fact the island is quite small. A few favourite moments of mine is most certainly all the scenes by the active volcano, which the tribe sees as the spirit mother. As the music swells, Wawa and Dain embrace creating a silhouette against the lava bursts in the background, a perfect moment.
The haunting score that accompanies the film just enhances the story and compliments the amazing location. I’m half surprised why Tanna is the first film to be shot on the island but then again, the tribes that still honour the traditional ways aren’t disturbed by the intrusions of the world. The land looks and feels undisturbed and acts as a place that is just for the tribes that dwell there, their own private land.
Although ultimately tragic (which is obvious from the start) there is still so much to appreciate in the film. A forbidden love that is tender and unbreakable at the same times is conveyed through the actors who can say so much with a look and a light touch, Tanna is a stand out film.