2 thoughts on “TBT: Princess Kaiulani (2009)

  1. I agree on all counts– there were loads of historical changes made to this story (the movie was originally titled “Barbarian Princess,” and plot changes were to add the romantic subplot + make for something more palatable to mainlander audiences; Hawai’i was twice occupied by that point, and despite the movie casting Thurston as an opponent, Dole was no ally to the nation). It’s clear that so, so many of the performers had the heart to tell what really happened, and since this was never going to go up for an Oscar against other blockbuster level period films, I don’t think it would have cost them anything to bat for accuracy (and use some local consultants re: hair, fashions, etc.) rather than an outsider perspective on a storybook version.

    That said, the first dress pictured (Q’orianka wearing the white) is actually meant to be from a time when Ka’iulani was only around 12 years old. Besides wanting to maximize her screentime, I have no idea why a 19 year old would have been put in that position unless she’s meant to be aged up there– though it’s still a childish dress– but I think it also helps highlight her character development over the course of the entire movie when you realize she’s meant to have essentially gone through her adolescence during that time.

    1. Yes, it’s pretty sad that the filmmakers could have made a more historical story — you put it perfectly “it wouldn’t have cost them anything to bat for accuracy” on that count. And wouldn’t have cost them much in the way of audience either; I don’t recall the film getting a very wide theatrical distribution at the time. It certainly lives on more in Netflix & DVD, which is all the more revealing of the movie’s faults.

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