Tahiti has become the heart of filmmaking all over the world looking for idyllic settings, diverse locations, reliable weather, local talent and an amazing destination like no other.
Through the years, Hollywood has featured the Islands of Tahiti in a variety of productions from blockbuster films like the 1962 remake of Mutiny on the Bounty with movie icon Marlon Brando to reality series like Keeping Up with the Kardashians in 2011.
This tight relationship between Hollywood and Tahiti goes way, way back…. Here are some of the many productions that took place in Tahiti.
The Hollywood-Tahiti love affair dated back to 1927 during the American silent film period with the adventure movie White Shadows in the South Seas directed by W.S. Van Dyke. It is the first of its kind movie shot remotely–a milestone for Hollywood film at the time.
The most famous remake of this movie in the year 1962 drove a significant boom to the Polynesian economy and left a lasting impression to the locals of Tahiti and the actor himself, Marion Brando. He instantly fell in love with the Island of Tetiaroa Atoll and made huge improvements on the place in the following years.
Produced by Universal Studios, Couples Retreat was one of the highest grossing films in 2009.It starred Kristen Bell, Vince Vaughn, and Jason Bateman. It was shot at the picturesque St. Regis Resort Bora Bora which was dubbed as the “Eden” resort onscreen.
Let’s move on to the Academy Award-nominated Walt Disney digital film Moana. The inspiration for this film came from a lot of islands, including Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and Fiji. Inspired by the ancient caves found on the island of Tahiti Iti, the film provides a link between Moana and her people’s lost culture, which is represented by a cave filled with a hidden fleet of large canoes.
The mystery Moana unlocks is representative of the little-known history of early seafarers who first arrived in Tahiti, and who, due to isolation developed a unique cultural identity of their own, Polynesian, and later sailed to the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean.
As Moana grows up, it’s easy to see how Otemanu is also a reference point for Moana’s fictional island Motunui. Otemanu is one of the South Pacific’s most iconic landmarks located in Bora Bora.
Did you know that the highest-grossing film in history a.k.a Avatar has roots in Tahiti? Director James Cameron said that he was inspired by the Banyan trees of Tahiti – depicted in the film as the O, sacred Tree of Souls?
In the 19th Century, Tahitians grew their hair long in the belief that it gave them strength. The elite members of society would travel to the islands to connect their hair to the banyan roots dangling from the tree in a deep sense of being connected to nature.
For movie lovers and big and little kids alike, it’s a thrill to take inspiration from Hollywood and see the islands for yourself, visiting the mainland and checking out the fabulous locations of these famous movies.
Feeling inspired to plan your own holiday inspired adventure?
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