This is the true story (more or less) of the civil unrest that happened in Hawaii around 1888. Princess Kaiulani was separated from her family (at age 13), and sent to Victorian England. Talk about a change of scenery!
The movie had such great cinematography and a nice score, that I was sucked into the first 30 minutes; and watching Q’orianka Kilcher as the Princess, sure helped things along. I love when a character looks so authentic and right for the part, and isn’t just a young pretty, up-and-coming face in Hollywood. I’m guessing in history, most characters don’t look like Megan Fox but like Kilcher. I didn’t think she was pretty, but certainly attractive enough for the part. That worked more in her favor.
I thought the twin servants that worked for her had potential. There’s an interesting scene early on where the Princess admires the crosses their mom made from whale bone. And they get into trouble for “touching” her as they give her one.
Later in the movie when we see them, I didn’t think the scenes were as powerful as they should’ve been. I’m not sure why, as the things they said were moving. I think I had just lost a bit of interest at that point.
I thought a lot about Whale Rider while watching this (not just because of the whale bone crosses or the luscious landscapes and water back-drop). Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as good as that movie. In fact, it often felt like I was watching a TV mini-series. Sometimes critics say a movie should’ve gone straight to DVD. With this, I think it should’ve gone straight to TV, and possibly some classrooms in Hawaii as an educational tool.
I did appreciate learning something about a part of history I knew nothing about; especially since I made my first trip to Hawaii last year.
I found the ending powerful, as I thought about this child and her cruel fate, as she let the shells her and her mom collected fall from her hands into the sea. It left me wondering if this was just a condensed version of the real story, and much like Pocahantas, real historians would pick it apart.
None of that would’ve mattered if I enjoyed the film more. At two hours, I felt it was an hour and thirty minutes too long.
I can only give it a D.