Hawaii (1966)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Hawaii</strong> (1966)

(On TV, July 2018) Box-office success is fleeting, and you just have to go back fifty years in Hollywood history to find Hawaii, then the second-biggest-grossing movie of the year and now almost entirely forgotten by history. Adapted from a single chapter in James Michener’s eponymous novel (far too long to entirely adapt to the big screen), it’s about the adventures of a missionary trying to settle in wild Hawaii with his new bride. If you’re expecting a rousing adventure story, though, temper your expectations: The film is heavy on religious fervour leading to dumb decisions leading to characters dying—to the point where the film’s religious credentials become almost suspect. The ending is particularly bittersweet. It has not aged particularly well: the movie is ponderous, moralistic, scarcely entertaining to watch and clearly belong to the Old Hollywood era that would be annihilated barely a year later. Max von Sydow and Julie Andrews star as the lead couple, but neither of them are particularly well used. It technically qualifies as an epic film by dint of taking place over decades and a staggering 186 minutes, but there isn’t much spectacle nor complex plot in the film. Frankly, it’s an ordeal to watch these days—although the treatment of the Hawaiian population and myths is slightly more respectful than you’d expect. What will reviewers think of today’s box-office hits in fifty years?

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