Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) F.W. Murnau
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) F.W. Murnau
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) F.W. Murnau

The Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI present

Tabu: A Story of the South Seas

F.W. Murnau | USA | 1931 | Unclassified (15+)

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Wed 23 Nov 2022

Shot with a largely local cast and crew in Tahiti and Bora Bora, Murnau’s collaboration with documentarian Robert Flaherty (who left before the shoot was over) transcends exoticism through its humanistic portrayal of a young man (Matahi) and woman (Anne Chevalier) who escape the prohibitive traditions of their home island only to then be exploited by Western colonialism. Free from the meticulous sets and artificial lighting of his German and Hollywood films, the film seemed to signal a new artistic era for Murnau; ended by the director’s untimely death in a car accident one week before the film’s premiere.

Format: DCP
Language: Silent with English Intertitles
Source: Murnau Stiftung
Runtime: 86 mins

Event duration

86 mins


Unclassified (15+)


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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Also screening on Wed 23 November

About the program

The Brink of Life: F.W. Murnau, Cinematic Visionary

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (1888–1931) was a perfectionist, an aesthete and, in many ways, a visionary, whose poetic, painterly, literate and highly cinematic sensibilities brought to the golden age of German cinema new concepts of film form based on a synthesis of all the elements then in vogue – from Caligari-like horrors to an expressionist use of actors’ bodies through to a rugged, sometimes optimistic naturalism (especially in his American period).

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F.W. Murnau directing

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