"Rapa Nui" is an interpretation of the events which led to the fracture of the native civilization in the Easter island, several centuries before its discovery by western explorers. During this era, the natives believe to be the only inhabitants of Earth and are divided in two major clans, the "long ears", who have been ruling the island for years now, and the "short ears", slaves whose main occupation is to build massive statues by command of the "long ears". But the annual "egg hunt" race is coming soon, and it may lead to some changes, because those who win get to rule the island, and this time the "short ears" get to participate.Comments:
Oh, "Rapa Nui", we barely got to know you. I remember the film being given some publicity because of Kevin Costner being the producer. See, Costner was at the height of his popularity then, thanks to "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves", and was willling to help director Kevin Reynolds with his little film about the Easter Island. Both of them acrimoniously broke up later during the making of "Waterworld", but they seem to have made up somehow and have been reunited in the excellent TV miniseries "Hatfields and McCoys".
But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's just say that "Rapa Nui" was a relatively small film (20 million dollars of budget, according to the IMDB) about an obscure civilization, didn't feature any stars to speak of and had quite a lot of nudity. Consequently, it soon disappeared from the theatres and it's rarely shown on TV. Which is a pity, because it's a great film. Seriously, it's easily Reynolds' best work together with the war film "Beast of War" and the above mentioned "Hatfields and MacCoys".
Now, Reynolds is a good director, but he has an unnerving tendency to excess and infantilism. Check out "Waterworld" if you haven't and you'll understand what I mean. But somehow these problems are absent here, even with Reynolds featuring as a co-writer. My guess is that with a limited budget and a shooting that had to take place in difficult environments (Australia and the real Easter island), Reynolds and his people trimmed the script all that they could to make sure the film didn't get out of control, and this time they succeeded.
The result is a terrific film. The different clans and their interrelations are explained very soon and with great clarity, with the Romeo & Juliet love story between the leads taking a second seat to island politics and religion: the main conflict in the film deals with the leader of the "long ears" clan, an elder who fears death and is easily manipulated by his chaman, who orders the "short ears" to build more "mohais" rather than fish or tend to their crops. Needless to say, these actions scalate the tension between both clans to new levels. And all this is fascinating stuff, really, think of something like "Game of thrones" but with grass skirts and statues.
And then the film changes gears towards the end and it becomes a great action film, as many islanders, the two leads among them, race through steep cliffs, swim through shark-infested waters and attack each others in order to win the "egg hunt" race that will decide their futures. Terrific, really. And even the "white canoe" prophecy, which acts as a mcguffin of sorts during most of the movie, is resolved in an unexpected way. I can't think of anybody who would see that coming, really.You dare to call this a "mohai", you short-eared cretins? It's too small! Builtd another inmediately!