Action / Adventure / Drama / Romance

Plot summary

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928.2 MB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 44 min
P/S 0 / 4
1.63 GB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 44 min
P/S 2 / 2

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MOscarbradley6 / 10

A tale as old as time

In some respects this film reminded me of Murnau's "Tabu". It hails from Australia, (and is the Australian entry for this year's Best Foreign Film Oscar),but is actually set on the remote Pacific island of Tanna among the Yakel tribe and tells of the forbidden love between Wawa and Dain, the son of the chief. Gorgeously shot in the rain forests of Tanna, which is part of Vanuatu, and on an active volcano, it has the feel of a documentary, (the cast are non-professionals),but is constructed like a thriller with a touch of 'Romeo and Juliet' thrown in. It was co-directed by Martin Butler, (it marks his feature debut),and its cinematographer Bentley Dean and there is a harshness at play that belies the beauty of the locations though there is also a degree of humour too. The problem with the picture is that the material is old-hat, however exotic the setting. As a certain song says, this is a tale as old as time but it's redeemed, in this instance, by the treatment.

Reviewed by eddie_baggins5 / 10

A unique and beautiful film let-down by a generic plot line

The fact that the little known Australian backed film Tanna was nominated this year at the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language category is quite the feat.

A film that barely saw recognition when it was released in Australian cinemas early last year, Tanna all of a sudden found itself competing on the world's biggest cinematic stage and it's lovely to see such a low key Australian effort make it to the Dolby Theatre, even if Martin Butler and Bentley Dean's film isn't the sum of its parts.

Before delving into Tanna the film, it's worth noting that the very fact that this movie exists and the background behind it makes it a film worth talking about, if not a film you'll be recommending to many people come the closing credits.

An Australian/Vanuatu co-production that's filmed entirely in one of the local islands native dialects and stars villagers of the country who are not only non-professional's, but also actors who'd never seen a camera let alone a motion picture, directors Martin Butler and Bentley Dean went too great lengths to bring this true story to life.

Like a real life stripped backed Romeo and Juliet, Tanna tells the story of lovebirds Dain and Wawa as they fight to be together against the rules of their tribe and people and are outcast, left to traverse the naturally beautiful landscape of their surrounds.

It's within this that Butler and Dean deliver some truly stunning cinematography and bring about naturalistic performances from their learning on the job cast, these elements combine and work together wonderfully with acclaimed composer Antony Partos's score and Gladiator songstress Lisa Gerrard's vocals and it gives Tanna a much needed boost when its less successful combinations come to the forefront.

For such a unique motion picture it's a real shame Tanna's central story feels so generic and unengaging, we never feel a connection to Dain and Wawa, partly due to skin deep performances but largely due to the delivery of stilted dialogue and a fact that the actual story itself isn't that original.

You can't help but escape the feeling that such a one-off piece of work would've benefited from taking more risks with its narrative and while it can't be an easy task for foreign filmmakers to work in the conditions that Tanna set itself up for, there's never an excuse for a film of this ilk to delve into boredom inducing lulls or such forceful script work, no matter the language.

Final Say –

Full credit to the Australian film industry for getting behind such a grand vision and what a fantastic cue for such a low-key Australian event to find itself a whole new audience on the biggest stage in Hollywood but while Tanna is a pretty and well intentioned tale of forbidden romance in a totally majestical setting, there's nothing that special about the story it tells or how it tells it, making Tanna a disappointing but a never less than curious affair.

2 1/2 angry volcano's out of 5

Reviewed by david-rector-850929 / 10

Beautiful and visceral cinema. Degree of difficulty = 9 out of 10

'Tanna' is what cinema is all about. Storytelling using the visual medium to illuminate and transport the viewer into another world. Collaborators Bentley Dean and Martin Butler have long histories in journalism and magazine current affairs and have achieved success with their documentaries, but this is their first feature film. They have intrepidly ventured into the picturesque locale of the Vanuatu island of Tanna and its indigenous folk for this tale of star crossed lovers.

Whilst using an age old narrative theme, the conflict at the centre of 'Tanna' is whether to go with your heart or your head (here represented by tradition and tribal custom),the filmmakers have beautifully photographed and captured the daily life and tribulations of this somewhat cloistered population. Plucked from the very villages they were born and raised in, the performances are really fine; having been well cast to handle the daunting task of acting in a movie. Of particular note for me was the wonderful Marcelline Rofit as the younger sibling of the betrothed lead, played by Marie Wawa. Her eyes taking in everything around her and affected by the changes are really fascinating to observe through her perspective. Mungau Dain plays the forbidden object of desire for Wawa, and according to the filmmakers he was chosen for the leading role as he was the most handsome in his tribe. He has a perfect mix of sensitivity and strapping masculinity. The two leads work very well together. 'Tanna' makes filmmaking look easy, but the degree of difficulty cannot be underestimated here. With a remote location, a cast that had never seen a movie, let alone acted in one; the cultural respect and fascination of Dean & Butler is evident in their sensitive and at times majestic portrayal of the peoples of Tanna. Bentley Dean's evocative cinematography and Antony Partos' effective score add to the atmospheric feel of the look and sound of the film. There is some tart dialogue that injects some needed humour and humanity into what might have been a conventional story. For me, seeing filmmakers explore unchartered terrain; both cinematically and culturally engenders more enthusiasm for contemporary film. There are plenty of formulaic directors and writers perpetuating the same notions of mores and perspectives, so it is refreshing to spend a couple of hours with other peoples and other customs. And it is a most affecting and enriching experience.

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