George Roy Hill's adaptation of James Michener's sprawling epic stars Max von Sydow and Julie Andrews as missionary couple Abner and Jerusha Hale. Following his graduation from divinity school in 1820, the rigid Hale awkwardly asks for the hand of the lovely Jerusha, despite her love for long-absent sea captain Rafer Hoxworth (Richard Harris). To his surprise she accepts, and the pair soon sets sail from Massachusetts, to bring the Lord's word to Hawaii. After a grueling journey, they are fortunate to reach the islands, where they're warmly greeted by Queen Malama (Joycelyne LaGarde). While Jerusha quickly charms the Hawaiian people, the grimly sanctimonious Abner insists that they adopt Christian values by covering their nakedness, renouncing their gods, and abandoning the practice of filial marriage. While the queen herself is unable to accept these strictures, she orders her people to accept them. One day the passionate Captain Hoxworth comes ashore, and although Jerusha still finds herself attracted to him, she refuses to be unfaithful to her husband. The captain is followed by succeeding waves of white men, leaving in their wake more commerce and disease. The film features stunning scenery, excellent acting (particularly on the part of von Sydow, Gene Hackman, John Cullum, and Michael Constantine), and a terrific Elmer Bernstein score.
God and the World
Movie Lover: martin from
Germany -- October, 7, 2008
Young Calvinist Abner travels to Hawaii with his newly wedded wife to preach God’s word to the natives. Max von Sydow plays this rigid, fanatic fundamentalist very convincing. His wife, Jerusha – very refreshing and lively Julie Andrews - displays the juxtaposition. Between these two characters lies the central theme of the film: do we have to love God exclusively and above all more than our contemporaries? They both anwser this question in their own way: Jerusha abandons the great love of her life (Richard Harris) and offers herself as a sacrifice. Abner remains an irreversible unconvincibly staunch fanatic. He dies alone a visionary traumatized old man without his children. Moreover other issues such as colonisation destroying the local culture are also mentioned and the part the church plays in this drama. The rather stormy voyage on the schoner to Hawaii (more than 5 minutes) leaves an everlasting impression on the audience. For those who don’t mind rather long discussions about God and our relation towards him this 1966 film can be exciting enterainment – even today.