Movie Review: “The Islands” (2019)

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Based on a true story, when the much-anticipated adventure film was released it showcased all the elements of the intriguing islands of Hawaii and their rich beauty and culture. The stunning production features a thought-provoking turn of events, some great talent and local collaborations:

Timothy A. Chey is the producer and co-wrote the intriguing story of Queen Kapiolani, also known as the philanthropist queen of Hawaii, with Amanda Lauer and Umi Perkins. The inspiration for the film was born out of Chey’s extensive knowledge of the history of the island, which is also his home.

An astonishing act of faith by High Chiefess Kapi’olani, as the queen is often referred to, challenged the local conventions. Played out nearly 200 years ago, the history of the islands is brilliantly conveyed, especially the clash of the cultures of the East and West.

Featuring in the “The Islands” is a cast that includes the Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino playing Mary Thornton, the native Hawaiian actress Teuira Shanti Napa, and John Savage.

Convention is challenged by an unprecedented act of faith

Teuira Shanti Napa plays the role of Queen Kapi’olani beautifully and portrays the issues surrounding the Queen’s embracing and justifying of Christianity very persuasively.

Won over to the Christian faith by a Boston Baptist missionary in 1821, the Queen wanted to prove her devotion, she wanted to put the false practices aside and prove her devotion. Wanting to show her faith, she performed a heroic mission that entailed an act which was performed by Hawaiians when they wanted to appease the “gods”; with human sacrifices to volcanos.

Defying the beliefs at the time and the statement that she did not fear the goddess Pele, she wanted to offer a Christian prayer at the dangerous volcano located at Kīlauea. Even though it was not active at that time, the volcano had obliterated villages before and had the constant presence of molten lava in its vent, situated at Halema’uma’u.

After walking the 60 miles to the site, the Queen continued to descended another 500 feet into the main vent. Her show of unwavering faith struck a chord with those that followed on her mission. From that moment on she renounced the gods of Hawaii.

The Chiefess was one of the first people to learn to read and write on the island, which she learnt at a school set up by the missionaries in Honolulu. Even though there were other locals who supported the church, she was the first noble of the island to commission a church, constructed from thatch, for the missionaries and she was baptized in 1825.

True depictions of life on Hawaii at the time

The suspenseful buildup to the climax allows the producer to showcase how life was on the island then and a history of the tribal warfare between the different factions is shown in some epic battle scenes. The visual features of the beauty of the landscape and the authentic clothing and weapons are praiseworthy.

Even though this is a faith-based production, it offers historical value about Hawaii, its people and the beauty that surrounds it. Chey is a former atheist himself who embraced Christianity and successfully captures both sides of the unfolding story. On the one hand, the traditional Hawaiians who don’t want to lose their way of life, and on the other the islanders who accept the missionaries, their way of life and their beliefs.

Kapi’olani died of breast cancer in 1941, but her story remained popular and her memory lives on in a poem written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson about her and she was often described as a person who was never rigid or puritanical but loved nature, unlike other people in the upper classes of Hawaii during that time.

A salute to Hawaii, its beauty and precarious position

Emotional and engaging, the movie can be considered a masterpiece. As beautiful as Hawaii is, its position over a volcanic hotspot makes south east area volcanically active and Kilauea was erupting continuously for early 20 years until 2018. Nearly three thousand miles from the nearest continent, the islands are also constantly exposed to the danger from tsunamis.

The movie and the setting on an island constantly under threat from the natural phenomena that could destroy it in its entirety evokes the viewer into thoughts of the fragility of the world. It seems even more relevant at this point as the entire planet is in lockdown under the threat of COVID-19 and not knowing what the future will bring.

Why watch “The Islands”?

The production offers emotion, action, and intrigue combined with a moving story and amazing scenery. There is some violence which makes the film unsuitable for younger children but can be enjoyed by the rest of the family. Regardless of the viewer’s religion, this film is thought-provoking enough to make one want to delve even deeper into the feelings it stirs in them and the meaning of life.

Watch The Islands Here:

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