Princess Kaiulani

2009

Biography / Drama / History / Romance

1
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 21% · 39 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 46% · 1K ratings
IMDb Rating 6.1/10 10 1915 1.9K

Director

Top cast

Will Patton as Sanford Dole
Q'orianka Kilcher as Princess Ka'iulani
Barry Pepper as Lorrin Thurston
Tamzin Merchant as Alice Davies
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
894.63 MB
1280*544
English 2.0
PG
23.976 fps
1 hr 37 min
Seeds 6
1.79 GB
1920*816
English 5.1
PG
23.976 fps
1 hr 37 min
Seeds 8

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by sleeping_gorilla 5 / 10

Not even a hemi-semi-demi-barbarian

I thought the movie was very interesting with strong performances but poor editing. Events often seem to occur out of order and there is some scenes where she just sitting on the beach thinking. One very good directing choice was that rather than force feeding us historical information we found out the fate of Hawai'i as Kaiulani does. There really are many great cinematic moments here, but it comes off as a mish-mash.

I believe "Barbarian Princess" would have been a much better title, as that's how US papers referred to Ka'iulani, and she was anything but.

I can't speak on the movie's accuracy, but the events are fascinating and this movie makes me want to learn more about Ka'iulani and the Kingdom of Hawai'i.

This gets a higher rating from me due to it's unique subject and the performance of the lead actress.

Reviewed by JamesHitchcock 5 / 10

Run-of-the-Mill Biopic

This film tells the story of Victoria Cleghorn, aka Princess Ka'iulani, the last heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii. She was the daughter of a Scottish financier and a Hawaiian princess, and became heiress presumptive to the throne on the death of her uncle King Kalākaua. She never, however, inherited the crown because her aunt, Queen Liliuokalani, provoked the wrath of the kingdom's white minority by attempting to reverse the Bayonet Constitution, which concentrated power in the hands of that minority, and to restore the rights of the native Hawaiians.

This led to the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893, and the country's subsequent annexation by the USA, one of the murkier episodes in American history and one which still sometimes causes modern Americans to have a guilty conscience. Admittedly, their treatment of the Hawaiians was no more ruthless than their treatment of various Native American peoples over the previous hundred years or so, but they could always justify their behaviour on the mainland by reference to the "manifest destiny" ideology. Supporting the overthrow of an internationally recognised sovereign government by a racist clique of white businessmen and then annexing the country at the behest of that clique was a bit too close for comfort to the European-style imperialism which many nineteenth-century Americans affected to deplore.

The film tells Kaʻiulani's story from a viewpoint sympathetic to her and to the Hawaiian cause, but was nevertheless controversial in Hawaii, particularly among native Hawaiians. Part of the reason was its original title "Barbarian Princess", which was deemed particularly offensive, even though it was intended in an ironic way to highlight 19th-century American and European prejudices. Also controversial was the fact that the Princess was not played by a Hawaiian actress; Q'orianka Kilcher is of mixed native Peruvian and European descent and (pace Thor Heyerdahl's eccentric theories to the contrary) the Hawaiians and other Polynesian peoples are not Native Americans but originated in Asia. Q'orianka may, however, have won the role because, to judge from photographs, she bears a certain physical resemblance to Kaʻiulani, despite their different ethnic origins.

"Princess Kaʻiulani" is notable as a rare example of a movie which defies normal Hollywood conventions by making the Americans the bad guys and a group of foreigners the good guys; the principal villain is Lorrin Thurston, one of the organisers of the coup which overthrew Liliuokalani and depicted here as an arrogant white racist who despised the Hawaiian people. That apart, however, there is little else which makes the movie stand out from the ordinary. Much of the plot is given over to Kaʻiulani's supposed love affair with a handsome young Englishman named Clive and, apart from being totally fictitious, this development is of little interest compared to the dramatic events which were unfolding in the princess's homeland. None of the acting contributions stand out and, despite its potentially interesting subject, the film rarely rises above the level of a run-of-the-mill biopic.

The film ends with by noting that in 1993, one hundred years after the overthrow of Liliuokalani, President Clinton and the United States Congress apologised to the Hawaiian people for America's role in these events, although they did not, of course, follow up their apology by recognising that the annexation had been illegal under international law and that it was therefore incumbent upon America to restore the independence of Hawaii. Bill Clinton must be kicking himself about that missed opportunity. With one stroke of his pen he could have turned the Hawaii-born Barack Obama into a foreign national, Hillary could have gone on to win the 2008 election and Bill could be back in the White House as America's first First Gentleman. 5/10

Reviewed by d_art 7 / 10

Well-intentioned 'Princess Kaiulani' is mostly by-the-numbers.

Q'Orianka Kilcher plays Princess Kaiulani, in a true story about one of the last heirs to the throne of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The film follows Kailulani's life, starting with her early, happy life in Honolulu, then, her education at Victorian England after the imposition of the Bayonet Constitution, which stripped Hawaiian monarchy of much of its authority. When Hawaii is soon overthrown, she returns to Hawaii in her campaign to convince the U.S. to reverse the overthrow.

This adaptation of Princess Kaiulani's life probably should've been quite good. It is a fascinating part of Hawaiian history that many are unfamiliar with. It was unfortunate, therefore, that the film spent much of its time on the less historical, but more mundane aspects of Princess Kaiulani's life.

Q'Orianka Kilcher's performance brings a relatable, somewhat spunky, every-girl aspect to her princess character. With that said, the script, sadly, doesn't fully flesh her out as I hoped. Many scenes in her life feel just tacked on to evoke sympathy, but no real texture or subtlety. For example, all the scenes with her prized seashell collection, which one would think will play a big part later, isn't really brought up again to any real significance. The supporting characters don't fair any better. Kaiulani's close friend Alice (Tamzin Merchant) is two-dimensional, and is allowed only to look deeply concerned and appears merely to suit Kaiulani's needs in the plot. I had no idea what benefit Alice gets from being Kaiulani's friend. Miss Barnes (Catherine Steadman), one of the heads of the school, comes off as just a generic, mean lady that audiences can hiss at. Kaiulani's initial relationship with one of the servant boys, which appeared significant at first, doesn't turn into anything beyond a small scene later. Admittedly, Jimmy Yuill is memorable as Kaiulani's Scottish father, Archie, who appears to be Kaiulani's biggest supporter and perhaps the biggest motivator for her to want to help her people. I also liked all the scenes involving King Kalakaua (Ocean Kaowili), a charismatic and somewhat tragic character, certainly.

I felt too much time was spent on Kaiulani and Clive's (Shaun Evans) romance, which felt generic, if not unnatural, given the fact that they were supposed to dislike each other. I must've seen this scene many times--the girl accidentally falls on the guy from the bicycle, both tumble onto the grass, and they fall in love with picturesque green hills in the background. In contrast, the kissing scenes are rather sensuous, even if the romance is on the bland side. However, things do get more interesting when Kaiulani has to pick between the plights of her people and a possible marriage to Clive.

The film shines when the subject of politics is involved. A dinner conversation scene with Kaiulani and President Cleveland (Peter Banks) using food as a way to talk politics is clever and effective. A scene where Kaiulani gives her first speech shows that she does have her flaws, and allows us to really root for her character. There's also a war scene that bring a bit of harsh reality to the situation in Hawaii. All the scenes that relate to history are the best scenes. In addition, the period sets and costumes are excellent in this film and really bring out the Victorian time period. It would've been nice to see more on how a Hawaiian monarchy functions, but what is shown is still interesting.

Despite initial pacing issues, the film picks up as we get to know Kaiulani as her people know her today—a shrewd politician. Where did she develop this skill? Somewhere during her Victorian England education, I think (although we never saw her study). Princess Kaiulani certainly is a great subject for a film. This film did make me want to know more about her, the politics of the time, and the general history of Hawaii. Perhaps that was the intention. If one were to look her up on Wikipedia, one will find many significant events in her life that were not in this film, which would've been great to see. Perhaps we'll see a film like that one day. As it is, this film is still a good light intro to a fascinating individual. ** ½ out of **** stars.

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