Wednesday, June 27, 2007

South Seas Cinema: The Last Navigator

Welcome to South Seas Cinema, a series of posts about films set in – or pertaining to – Polynesia and the South Pacific.

If you like Kon-Tiki then check out The Last Navigator, a 50-minute film directed by Andre Singer in 1989. Set in Micronesia, The Last Navigator documents a 500-plus mile open sea voyage from the Micronesian island of Satawal to Saipan in a traditional outrigger and without the aid of modern navigational equipment.

Among the crew is American navigator Stephen Thomas, who spent nine months learning the navigation traditions of the Satawal islanders. Thomas is taught by Piailug, to whom the film’s title refers. Piailug is considered the most experienced of the Satawal islanders, if not all of Micronesia. Discouraged by the younger islanders’ lack of interest in learning traditional navigation, Piailug reluctantly agrees to teach Thomas, lest his cultural knowledge be forgotten.

I caught the film at the British Museum as part of their Power and Taboo exhibition. From my brief search on the Internet, I've come to the conclusion that it's pretty hard to catch a viewing of this film and that it's not on DVD or at least not readily available to the public. However, I did notice that a paperback written by Stephen Thomas and sharing the same title as the film is for sale on Amazon.

Click here for more info about The Last Navigator.

South Seas Cinema is sponsored by

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The content of this post originally appeared on this blog
November 27, 2006.

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