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Tanna is a love story based on a real-life incident that happened in the 1980s among the Yakel, a people of Vanuatu. I saw the gorgeous trailer for it some time back, and then [personal profile] ladyherenya's posting about it the other day made me realize that I could now see it on DVD.

The film is acted by the Yakel themselves, playing themselves: Chief Charlie plays Chief Charlie, the shaman plays the shaman, and so on. The director (an Australian) and the actors would go over what was going to happen in each scene, and then the actors would essentially improvise. The whole thing is in the Yakel language, with subtitles.

It's beautiful, and tremendously moving. Of course the young lovers are beautiful people who win your heart, but everybody is wonderful. I fell in love with Selin, the little sister of Wawa (the young woman), and with Chief Charlie. It wasn't just--or even mainly--the lovers' devotion to each other that was so moving (although it, too, was moving): it was the care and concern everyone in the village had for Wawa and Dain (her lover), trying to get them to go along with tradition--which would mean giving each other up. Wawa's grandfather has an old magazine with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in it. He says, See, she had to marry him,** but they grew to love each each other, and she's a queen. And her grandmother says, I had to move here as a bride, but I've never regretted it. And the chief talks to Dain and explains how important it is for peace for Wawa to marry into the enemy Imedin community. And even after Wawa and Dain defy their community, everyone is still trying to find ways to make things work out.

And there's a volcano, Yahul. It sounds like the ocean, or like the whoosh of a fetal heartbeat on ultrasound. At one point the lovers embrace, silhouetted against its fire. "My favorite part was when the lovers met at the volcano. That was beautiful," said the grandmother, speaking in a clip on the actors' reaction to the film. (Marceline, the little girl who plays Selin, said "I couldn't stop smiling, seeing me on the screen," and her father said, "I was so proud of her acting, and I was emotional watching her. I was so overjoyed I cried.")

At the end of the story, the shaman receives this song from the Spirit Mother:

Since the beginning of time
the chiefs have arranged marriage
along the Kastom Roads
But two lovers chose to walk a different path.
Now hear their words:
"You saw our love was strong
We showed you how we felt
You denied us life together
We had no choice but to say goodbye forever."

**In point of fact, their marriage was a love marriage, or at least so my British husband tells me--but when you're trying to persuade your granddaughter to do the right thing, you might not be beyond misrepresenting things--or maybe that's what he actually believed... and maybe he's right

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/875465.html. Comments are welcome at either location.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 22nd, 2018 11:07 pm (UTC)
; )
thank you!
what a great looking movie!
will have to find it to watch...
Jan. 23rd, 2018 10:52 am (UTC)
Re: ; )
I was able to get it on interlibrary loan through my library. It also looks like you can pay to view it on YouTube.
Jan. 23rd, 2018 09:09 pm (UTC)
RE: Re: ; )
Jan. 26th, 2018 11:12 pm (UTC)
Different. Film. I have. My niece. Married. Britch man. He good. Thank s for sharing
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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