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Princess Ka'iulani - The Movie

Updated on August 18, 2011

I wasn't particularly excited to see the movie "Princess Ka'iulani" when I heard they were making it. I still wasn't particularly interested when I heard it was coming out in the theaters. I had actually waited until some of my friends and family had seen the movie before I would make up my mind whether or not to go and see it. (Nevermind the cost of going to see a movie being more than some people make in an hour). There seemed to be some fairly good reviews of the movie, and some friends had wanted to go, so I agreed.

The movie actually took me by surprise. Of all the movies about Hawai'i or taking place in Hawai'i, 98% portray the local population (Not just the Native Hawaiians), but the entire populace as being savage idiots who only drink, smoke, party, surf, and "expanding the population". This movie, Princess Ka'iulani, was definitely something different. It seemed they took time to actually get things somewhat geographically correct (the attempt was appreciated considering a lot of the places where some of those events took place are no longer) and the culture somewhat accurate. It seemed they also took the time to get the native tongue as genuine as they possibly could, though, as someone who knows the language, there were times when I cringed after hearing them speak more like robots. Granted there were some downfalls to the movie, overall I was satisfied with what they did.

The acting could have been a lot better, well, for some of the actors. Q'orianka Kilcher did very well in the part as Princess Ka'iulani. I really enjoyed and appreciated how much energy and emotions she put into the movie. Each time she made an expression, it was easily noticeable upon her face. Though subtle, it was easy to catch the little smirks of satisfaction that fell over her face. She did well to keep her composure and did well to keep her amusement at a minimal, like that which a real princess would do. Although there was a lot of opposition and protesting the part of the princess being played by someone not of Native Hawaiian blood, I say she was definitely a great selection. Many of the other actors were very well chosen as well. They played their parts well and made the story of the princess come alive on the screen. However, there were some actors who could have stepped up to the plate a little better. Sadly, most of those actors I am speaking about were those who were filling the part of the Hawaiian people. When they spoke, they seemed almost robotic or like they were reading from a cue card; whether it was in english or the native tongue. I suppose my standards for them were set very high considering this was their time to shine.

One of the more confusing parts of the movie was that it did not show a lot of dates. Granted seeing dates on the screen all the time isn't always a pleasant thing, but for something that follows a historic timeline, it is a little essential to have. If I did not grow up knowing about the history of the monarchy and how Princess Ka'iulani's life was lived, I would have assumed everything happened in close succession. It didn't. Everything happened over a matter of years, almost decades even. The way the movie was laid out, it would seem like days or even weeks passed in between each event. I suppose it was some kind of ploy to get everyone to open up a book and read up on the history of Hawai'i and the monarchy. Unfortunately, when people watch a movie, they expect everything to be explained to them so that they can understand what is going on. Movies that leave people walking out confused don't get very high ratings, which also means they don't make very much money.

Another aspect of the movie that bothered myself as well as many of the people I know was how openly "playful" the princess was and how much she was shown making out with her beau. Yes, the princess had a gentleman friend, but it was not the nature of someone of her status and upbringing to openly flirt and play with the one of her affection. It was surely not the manner of a princess to openly make out with her gentleman friend while out in public. Whatever happens behind a closed door is their business, but all afairs of someone of royalty was surely kept to a minimal as to preserve her reputation. Would any of you feel confident in seeing someone of your royal party openly making out with her boy toy? I definitely would not. Surely those who were responsible for producing this film would have known the princess was brought up with high standards and taught to behave like a lady. I suppose when someone from a country that never had royalty tries to create something on a subject like this, it would be likely that he/she would miss something.

Despite a few minor glitches in detail, the movie was very well made and those producing it did take the time to cover a lot of history, a lot of information, and try to make sure most of the cultural aspects of Hawai'i were covered well and somewhat properly. I'm sure if I sat through the movie a couple more times, I'd notice some things I had missed the first time; some small detail the director threw in just to show he did try his best. Also seeing the names of the many people who had a hand at making sure the cultural aspect of the film were covered (most of which I recognize), I felt almost at ease knowing they were there to help. I also felt a twinge of pride at knowing many of the people I know had their part in making this movie. It was definitely a nice way to introduce Hawai'i and it's people to the world.


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