May 14, 2010
The true story of a Hawaiian princess' attempts to maintain the independence of the island against the threat of American colonization.
Q'orianka Kilcher, Barry Pepper, Shaun Evans
Don’t let the title fool you – this is no Disney movie (not yet, anyway). Princess Ka’iulani (also known as Barbarian Princess) is the story of one of the last in the line of Hawaiian royalty before its annexation by the United States. This 2009 film stars Q’orianka Kilcher, who also played Pocahontas in the 2005 live action movie, The New World. This particular film tells a tale of heartache, loss, love, pride for one’s nation, and standing up for one’s beliefs.
When I think of Hawaii, I typically think of a beautiful island where the locals embrace visitors and enjoy fun in the sun and waves all day. Upon watching this movie, I quickly realized that life wasn’t always like what I have pictured in this gorgeous island paradise. The royal family did what they could to protect their family and island nation. In school, I know personally that the only thing I learned about Hawaii before it became part of the U.S. was about Queen Liliʻuokalani being the last queen regnant of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was actually Ka’iulani’s aunt, Lydia, as she is called in the movie.
This film brings a rich, historical experience to those of us who know little about Hawaii. It made me want to learn more about this Pacific isle, and it has definitely expanded my knowledge of the royal family that once reigned there. I have done further research on my own since then, and it is very eye-opening, as well as very sad, to learn of the tragedies these people had to overcome through the years.
My ongoing research has shown me that while maintaining a great deal of historical accuracy, this movie did leave out major parts of the last Hawaiian crown princess’s life. I won’t reveal those here so as not to spoil anything, but I would recommend this movie to anyone who has an interest in history or just learning more about the United States in general. There are some romantic scenes, but they are mild. There is also some violence due to the war scenes that might frighten very young children, but overall, I personally would be comfortable watching this movie with friends, family, or otherwise mixed company.
Great historical depiction of a time, place, and people mostly ignored by the history books. The visuals of the locations are great, and the movie appears to be faithful to dialects as appropriate to time and place (as far as my limited knowledge is concerned, at least). I recommend doing your own research in order to get a more complete picture of the circumstances surrounding the subject of the film, if you wish to learn more about the events of that time period.
May have a few too many “mushy” moments. Leaves out pivotal moments regarding the title character’s life.