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“The Islands” (2019) movie review

Underpinned by a very touching real story, acted out by a great selection of talent. With elements of the original Hawaiian language, strong local collaboration and the most amazing visual imagery, this is indeed an extraordinary film:

Producer Timothy A. Chey, who happens to be a Hawaii resident with extensive local knowledge, dug into local history to bring to life an inspirational film that is based on true events on the island. The theme is centred around Queen Kapiolani (1781-1841), who is well documented to be the philanthropist queen of Hawaii – also referred to by many as High Chiefess Kapiʻolani. At the heart of this true story that played out some 200 years ago, was her extraordinary act of faith that challenged all local conventions at the dangerous site of a volcano that previously obliterated villages.

The clash of cultures that occurred between East and West at the time is well conveyed. All to the extent it is a highly engaging and emotional masterpiece, which is far from being boring. It was co-written by Timothy A. Chey, Amanda Lauer and Umi Perkins. Featuring rising talent Teuira Shanti Napa as Chiefess Kapiolani, alongside Mira Sorvino as Mary Thornton could not have played out better – along with up to several hundreds of locals Hawaiians who featured as extras during different scenes.

How an extraordinary act of faith challenged convention:

Whilst the movie is especially well received by Christians and evangelicals, it inspires deep thinking with all groups of viewers on bigger issues. This is because Queen Kapiolani had become a Christian later in life and performed the most unusual act according to local tradition: it was largely considered a demonstration of her faith. She decided not to honour the goddess called Pele, at the volcano located at Kīlauea where molten lava was present, albeit without an active volcano. It was a highly dangerous situation with a real risk to life. After having walked 60 miles with some of her followers to reach the site of the volcano, she said a Christian prayer instead. She then descended some 500 feet into the main vent located at Halemaʻumaʻu. Some succinct statements struck a chord with believers attested to her unwithering faith: she proclaimed there is one true God, that she does not fear Pele and declared the gods of Hawaii to be in vain.

Tribal battles exactly as it occurred back in the day:

Prior to the main event – the immense act of faith by Queen Kapiolani, there is quite a build-up and suspense during which the true beauty of Hawaii and the authenticity of the movie are probably some of the most impressive visual features that viewers have praised. It features several villages and shows how different factions and tribes had some heavy battles in those days. Due to the large number of Hawaiian actors and the extent to which original clothing and primitive, weapons of war were used, it is literally like going back in time. This is believed to be a very real representation of life in Hawaii at the time.

 Authentic, faith-based, with an empathetic unbiased angle:

Although this is a faith-based movie, the true story that it represents, authenticity and the sheer beauty of the sites featured in Hawaii, is really what differentiates it. This is not the type of story that can be cross-referenced in religious books, although it is well documented in history. Given that Tim Chey was an atheist himself, who later became a Christian, he was really able to empathise with various views in the world: this is evident in the way the scenes unfolded and how accurately the differences of traditional islanders and those who were open to missionaries were projected. (Read the interview of Tim Chey on “The Islands” and being a former Atheist).

As relevant to today’s world as can be:

What makes it especially relevant in what many consider to be apocalyptic moments in the world, with COVID-19 and other global events, is the fact that in those days, in the context of the island and even to this day: as beautiful as Hawaii may be, it always had a constant threat to life in it’s entirety, both by means of Tsunamis and Volcanos.

Final take:

Those who need a film that contains sufficient emotion, action, intrigue and very stimulating visual scenery will enjoy the movie, regardless of their faith or denomination. There is no doubt that those who see a deeper meaning to things, will have a deeply emotional connection with it. It is ideal for all ages and perfect for group and family entertainment too.

 

More about “The Islands”: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theislandsmovie
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheIslandsMovie
Official Site: http://TheIslandsMovie.com
Blog: http://timchey.blogspot.com/

 

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Rita Monteiro

Rita – After graduating from NYU with a master degree in history, She was also a columnist for many local newspapers. Rita mostly covers business and Technology topics, but at times loves to write about reviews as well.
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