The enduring popularity of Polynesia in western literature, art, and film attests to the pleasures that Pacific islands have, over the centuries, afforded the consuming gaze of the west—connoting solitude, release from cares, and, more recently, self-renewal away from urbanized modern life. Facing the Pacific is the first study to offer a detailed look at the United States’ intense engagement with the myth of the South Seas just after the First World War, when, at home, a popular vogue for all things Polynesian seemed to echo the expansion of U.S. imperialist activities abroad. Jeffrey Geiger looks at a variety of texts that helped to invent a vision of Polynesia for U.S. audiences, focusing on a group of writers and filmmakers whose mutual fascination with the South Pacific drew them together—and would eventually drive some of them apart. Key figures discussed in this volume are Frederick O’Brien, author of the bestseller White Shadows in the South Seas; filmmaker Robert Flaherty and his wife, Frances Hubbard Flaherty, who collaborated on Moana; director W. S. Van Dyke, who worked with Robert Flaherty on MGM’s adaptation of White Shadows; and Expressionist director F. W. Murnau, whose last film, Tabu, was co-directed with Flaherty.
Subjects: Political Science, Sociology
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