Project Description

Hula Girls : Imagining Paradise

1 x 52 minute documentary

The hula girl remains one of the most potent and sexually alluring images in popular culture today. From the first expeditions to the South Pacific, tantalising reports of beautiful women drifted back to Europe. When British and French sailors ‘discovered’ Tahiti in the 1760s, they found a culture of erotic dancing and extramarital sex. This film charts the history of the idealised image of the Polynesian woman, and the changes each succeeding generation has imposed on its representation. From early 18th Century illustrations to Gauguin’s famous island paintings, as well as footage from famous and not so famous Hollywood films, the myth of an island paradise inhabited by beautiful women continues. There are snippets of the Sarong Girl herself, Dorothy Lamour and the titillating and adventurous Dolores Del Rio, not to mention a bare-chested, but still coyly modest Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian in one of the five adaptations of The Mutiny On the Bounty.

Drawing on spectacular locations in Tahiti and Hawaii, and a rich heritage of art, literature, and moving pictures, Hula Girls: Imagining Paradise asks why this popular rendering has maintained such a grip on the Western imagination.

The New South Wales Premiers Award, Audio/Visual History 2005

Director and Writer  Trevor Graham
Director of Photography  John Whitteron
Editor  Denise Haslem
Producer  Andrew Ogilvie
An Electric Pictures Production 2004