Saturday, November 26, 2011


Query inspired by Princess Ka`iulani article

This comment was just posted to Henry Curtis' article Princess Ka`iulani (5/15/2010). Since the article is old and comments aren’t very visible unless you want to click and read them, it would go unnoticed. So I’m promoting it here as an article.

Henry wrote about his impressions and concerns after attending opening night of the film (click the link above to read). The commenter is asking for some reliable references (see the end of the comment).

I visited and was impressed by her website. I hope that some of you might send suggestions her way.



Greetings. I just wanted say that I saw this film last night for the very first time via Netflix. I have known nothing of the actual history of Hawaii beyond a cursory mention of King Kamehameha in some far distant text book in middle school. I grew up in Southern California so surfing was a part of the culture. My mother fell in love with a Hawai'ian boy when she was a girl. My grandfather played his guitar Hawai'ian-style. I read A Different Mirror: A Multicultural History of the United States by Ronald Takaki in the late 1990s and as an activist in Virginia working to reclaim Richmond's oldest municipal African Burial Ground from its 2nd asphalt blanket of a parking lot at the hands of our local university, I knew that Hawai'i was a victim of criminal US imperialism. As an African-Norwegian-American woman I could see clearly that few to no Hawai'ians were involved in the writing and directing of the film. On sight, I accepted that Ms. Kilcher might have Polynesian ancestry of some kind, so I was a little startled to read that she is Incan/Swiss. I also think she is a fine actress who did a good job at some key moments in the film. All that said, I did not watch this historical dramatization with any conviction that it would all turn out to be true, especially in its timeline and interpersonal or political details. It was a story. What it did for me and my husband was to drive us to the internet this morning looking for sites and booklists that COULD give us 1) a history of Hawai'i, 2) a factual account of Ka'iulani's life, and 3) a sense of what Hawai'ians thought of this film - in general as well as from the perspective of those engaged in the struggle for self-determination. For stimulating our curiosity, I am grateful for this film. However, my real purpose in commenting here is to share that while I am not usually facinated by "royalty", one thing that occurred to me while watching this film was the way in which a monarch, especially of a society being deliberately obliterated, whose life is steeped in the profound and mundane rituals of their society can come, at a key moment, to embody RESISTANCE simply because they embody their culture. That is clearly as powerful a symbol as a resistance fighter dying on the fields and was strengthened for me by seeing the videos and articles that so fiercely defend the integrity of this woman against the detraction and trivialization of contemporary pop culture filmmaking. That she died so young, even if pneumonia was the practical cause, adds to the sense of a nation's recognition that the old way has died and the new ways are not yet revealed. And yet, we fight. I agree wholeheartedly that "It is time for the Kanaka Maoli/Kanaka Maoli-supporter film/documentarist/writing community to make a PONO documentary free from oversexualized, pseudo-Hawaiian silliness and fact-morphing: a film that "stars" Ka'iulani as her own photos, her own letters, in the accounts of the Hawaiian language press and other accurate period records." I respectfully look forward to that event. In the meantime, I would appreciate recommendations for books on the history of the Kanaka/Maoli people.
Ana Edwards
Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project,
Host, DefendersLIVE,
Richmond, Virginia

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Aloha Ana,
It is impressive that you take the time to voice your thoughts on this film, even though it is a long time since its release. I refuse to spend even a dollar to see it.

There were indeed many kanaka maoli disturbed about the whole script, the production company, the carte blanche access to the Palace and all the priceless furnishings.
By the way, the state doesnʻt allow kanakas to hold their yearly conventions on the grounds anymore yet fundraising cocktail parties have been written into the new Palace rules for state employees to use or private corporations who want to rent the Palace.

Henry Noa, the duly elected Prime Minister of the Reinstated Lawful Hawaiian Government was on YouTube objecting to and asking for a rewrite of the script because the whole story was a blatant slap in the face of Hawaiian history (as usual) they all want to rewrite Hawaiian history.

The original title of this film was to be: Barbarian Princess until the uproar and protest made them change it.

The production crew was a former porno company that was allowed access to the interior like you would not believe. They ʻsaidʻ they made replicas of the furniture for filming. They were mandated to wear booties when inside yet I have pictures of crew members crawling through the window with black boots. The interior is temperature and light controlled yet the upstairs windows were left open for long periods of time and the hot lamps were blasted directly into the thrown room for hours at a time several feet away. The front lawn had straw/hay brought in and covered the grounds with apparently no consideration of recent termite extermination job that is conducted at a very high cost.
Lots of other protocols were just dismissed by the state to let this hinky, cheesy film be made.

I still wonder if the original furnishings are still in there and if it wasnʻt just a job to case the place...which would have returns far more profitable than the film if items were stolen. If they were stolen and dupes remain, guaranteed no one would want to fess up to the error they made in letting this occur.
Anyway, thank you for your interest and time to write. Please check out YouTube for the protests and comments. Infuriating.
aloha and thank you Henry and Larry.

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