Images of Paradise:
Representations of the Pacific Islands in Film and Video
Instructor: Dr Vilsoni Hereniko
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
University of Hawai'i at Manoa
1890 East-West Road, Moore 215
Honolulu, HI 96825
Tel: (808) 956-2659
Fax: (80) 956-7053
Purpose and Objectives
Although film and video play an
important part in our lives, rarely are we given the opportunity
to critically evaluate what we see, or to learn how to interpret
what we see. In the last two decades or so, the number of feature
films and documentaries made by or about Pacific Islanders has
increased significantly. However, unlike books, feature films and
documentaries are usually ignored by academics, and thus denied
the critical scrutiny they deserve. When used, they are often
treated as supplementary material, interesting but peripheral.
This course is designed to make film and video a central focus of
enquiry for students interested in Pacific Studies and/or films
about the Pacific.
This course will examine the ways in which
Pacific Islanders have been portrayed in film and video. Students
will be encouraged to critically evaluate what they view in class
and to think about the forces that influence the production of
certain narratives and images and the impact of film and video on
the popular imagination. Readings that challenge or complement
the views and biases of the filmmakers, material from other
media, and guest speakers are an integral part of the course.
Students will meet once a week throughout the semester,
either to discuss the film(s) assigned for the week or to view a
feature or documentary. Attendance is compulsory.
Part I: The Pacific as "Paradise"
(subthemes include romance, race, and
27 August, 1997
Introduction to course and distribution of course materials.
Film: White Shadows in the South Seas
Film: Bird of Paradise
Film: South Pacific
Film: Mutiny on the Bounty
Part II: Violence
Film: Te Rua
Film: Once Were Warriors
Discussion: Violence on Screen
Part III: Cultural Identities
Film: Sons for the Return Home
Films: Words, Earth, and Aloha
Film Conference: November 11-13, 1997
Films: Attend film conference screenings and panels
Part IV: Toward a Pacific Aesthetic
Discussion: Barry Barclay's views on indigenous filmmaking
Hawai'i Short Films
Aboriginal Short Films
New Zealand Short Films
Attendance/ Participation in
Reaction papers: 50%
Final Examination: 30%
Attendance/Participation: All students are expected to attend the class or
screening each week. Those who miss class without a valid reason
should not expect to do well in this category.
Reaction Papers: Students
will be required to record their reactions to five of the
films screened in class. Each reaction paper should be about
three pages long. There are three parts to this paper: first, a
brief synopsis of the narrative; second, the ways in which the
Pacific or the islanders are portrayed in the film; and third,
the student's reactions to the film's depiction of the Pacific
and the islanders.
Instead of the reaction papers, some students may wish to do
a research paper. See me no later than the third week if this is
an option you wish to pursue.
will be expected to answer an essay question that will test
in-depth knowledge of the main concerns of this course.
Film Conference: A
film conference from Nov. 10-13 will address the main concerns of
this course. Please plan ahead of time so that you will be able
to attend the panels as well as view the films that will be
screened as part of this conference.
films are the main texts for this course. Students should view
the films as often as possible after the initial screening.
However, there is a text that students will find useful for the
first part of the course.
Reyes, Luis , 1995
Made in Paradise: Hollywood's Films of Hawai'i and the South
Seas. Honolulu, Mutual Publishing.
Allen, Tricia , 1993
Trashing Soundstage Earth. Honolulu Weekly. Vol 3:47, Nov.
Aoki, Diane, ed., 1994
Moving Images of the Pacific Islands: A Guide to Films and
Video. Honolulu: UH Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Douglas, Norman, 1994
Electric Shadows in the South Seas: The Pacific Islands in Films
- A Survey & Films on the Pacific Islands: A Comment on Their
Use. Moving Images of the Pacific Islands: A Guide to Films
and Video. ed. Diane Aoki. Occasional Paper 38. Honolulu: UH
Center for Pacific Islands Studies.
Lutkehaus, Nancy, 1991
"Excuse Me, Everything is Not All Right": On
Ethnography, Film and Representation (An Interview with Filmmaker
Dennis O'Rourke). Cultural Anthropology 4(4): 422-437.
Mellon, Jim, 1994
Images of Micronesia on Film, 1944-1988. Pacific History:
Papers from the 8th Pacific History Association Conference.
ed. Donald Rubinstein. Mangilao, University of Guam Press and
Micronesia Area Research Center, 385-403.
Monaco, James: The Art Technology Language
History and Theory of Film and Media. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1981.
Rampell, Ed, 1992
10 Hawaiian Films to Make You Lose Your Luau. Honolulu Weekly.
Vol 2:16, 4-5.
Smyth, Rosaleen, 1991
Reel History: The Pacific Islands on Film, Television and Video.
Paper presented at the ANU Workshop on Pacific History, Research
School of Asian and Pacific Studies, 3-5 December.
Wentzel, Marty, 1993
Hawaii Goes Hollywood. Hawaiian Airlines. November, 12-17.
[Subject: Film; Cutural Studies]