Thoughts On: The Land Has Eyes - Warrior Woman

27/11/2017

The Land Has Eyes - Warrior Woman

Quick Thoughts: The Land Has Eyes (Pear Ta Ma 'On Maf, 2004)


Made by Vilsoni Hereniko, this is the Fijian film of the series.


The Land Has Eyes is set and was shot on the island of Rotuma, which is apart of the Fiji archipelago and, whilst it is a Fijian dependency, is self-governing and separate from the four major regions of the cluster of islands. This is the very first feature-length film to emerge from Fiji and, as is a very common trend throughout the history of world cinema, this investigates the conflict/relationship between modernity and local tradition. With many allusions to a legend of a female warrior, this film then explores the strength of women and its representation in traditional Rotuman culture that has, more generally speaking, been forgotten to some degree in the present day; director, Hereniko, for example said that his crew had to construct all of the traditional thatched-roofed homes for the set of the film and that the production of the film reignited interest in tradition amongst his people.

With clear motivations to depict a relationship rather than a conflict between tradition and culture, The Land Has Eyes is a successful endeavour as the story emphatically construct its female lead and a solid narrative journey (that is based on Hereniko's own life) for her to travel. The downfalls of this movie, however, lie in the fact that the film is in the script and remains there. In such, the camera work does little in the way of bringing life to the story and instead actually leaves a strong sense of disharmony in the frame. Tonally and aesthetically inconsistent with the story, the form of this film is largely affected by an over-enthusiastic camera that, rather than pushing the subtext of a scene through precise cinematic language, only manages to cheapen it. This is a very common problem with most first-time or amateur productions: as good as the story is, it finds difficulty in finding its way to the screen due to cinematics that are too ambitious, or merely do not suite the script's needs.

Nonetheless, the power of this film speaks to just how solid the script is. Whilst there are then moments of discord, this is a film worth seeing.

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