Saturday, January 19, 2008

L'ultimo paradiso / The Last Paradise

Rakkauden laguuni / Kärlekens lagun. IT 1956. PC: Lux Film, Paneuropa Cinematographica. D: Folco Quilici. SD: Folco Quilici, Dario Cecchi, Ennio Flaiano. DP: Masino Manunza, Marco Scarpelli - Ferraniacolor - scope. M: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino. 89 min. A vintage 35 mm dupe print with Swedish commentary and Finnish subtitles.
    Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 19 Jan 2008.

A beautiful colour semi-documentary from the French Polynesia; Bora Bora, Tahiti, the Easter Islands and the Pentecostal Island. This is cinema of attractions: the daredevil liane jumps (like benshi), the pearl diving, the bravery with sharks, the tiger shark, and the muraena.

The battle with fear is the theme of the first part, starring the boy Atemi and the girl Areva. The second part is the story of Maeva and Terei in the native paradise, where Terei dreams of the white man's world, gets a job on the phosphate mines and celebrates Quatorze Juillet in Papeete. The innocent nude charms of a Tahitian dancer girl are captured by an American photographer. Terei fights a storm trying to return to his small island. There is a midnight bonfire. There is a wedding celebration at Bora Bora. NB. the shark theme by Lavagnino.

A noble and innocent documentary before the trashy mondo films, a lament on the last paradise on Earth before the Western people corrupted it. I checked Yrjö Hirn's wonderful survey Valtameren saari (En ö i världshavet, 1928, "An Island in the World Ocean") for the deep roots of this fascination. Folco Quilici seems to be a talent in the league of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

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