In the 1970s, Hawai’i began what is known as the Second Hawaiian Renaissance, a period of renewed interest in native Hawaiian history, language, crafts, music, dance, and spirituality. Out of that period of resurgence came enormous social, cultural, and political excitement and activity which, to a great extent, continues to this day.
Inspired by what he encountered during his first visit to Hawai’i in 1986, filmmaker Robert Mugge joined forces with state politician Dr. Neil Abercrombie (later to become the U.S. Congressman from Honolulu and then Governor of the state), University of Hawai’i ethnomusicologists Dr. Ricardo D. Trimillos and Jay W. Junker, kumu hula and educator Vicky Holt Takamine, and Honolulu Academy of Arts film programmer Ann Brandman to produce an 85-minute documentary on Hawaiian music shot largely on the Island of O’ahu, and then, with the help of Cove Enterprises executives Roy Tokujo and Ronald Letterman, an 85 minute documentary on Hawaiian dance shot on all six of the primary Hawaiian Islands. In both cases, Dr. Abercrombie was able to convince his former colleagues in the state legislature to fund the films because of their educational and promotional value for the state.
HAWAIIAN RAINBOW, a 1987 film about Hawaiian music, examines Hawai’i’s traditional chants, percussion, ukulele, slack-key and steel guitar, male and female falsetto, and lush vocal harmonies, many of them accompanied by authentic Hawaiian dance styles.
KUMU HULA: KEEPERS OF A CULTURE, a 1989 film about the art of the hula, explores Hawaiian dance traditions going back to 500AD when Polynesians first arrived in the islands. Those traditions have been passed along from generation to generation by kahuna (priests and sages) and kumu hula (master teachers). In this film, shot at exotic locations throughout the islands, Vicky Holt Takamine and other respected kumu hula reveal ancient traditions that have survived, flourished, and (where appropriate) evolved in spite of attempts by Nineteenth Century missionaries, plantation owners, and US Marines to repress Hawai’i’s indigenous culture.
Together, these two films present Hawaiian art and life as few outsiders have seen it: rich, expressive, colorful, and utterly unique. In 2015, both films were transferred to HD video from their original 16mm and stereo audio masters and lovingly restored.
Double Feature: 170 minutes on 1 disc / Transferred to HD from the original 16mm film and lovingly restored.
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