Director: George Roy Hill.
Starring: Julie Andrews (Jerusha Bromley), Max von Sydow (Rev. Abner Hale), Richard Harris (Capt. Rafer Hoxworth), Gene Hackman (Dr. John Whipple), Carroll O'Connor (Charles Bromley), Jocelyne LaGarde (Malama Kanakoa - the Ali'i Nui), Manu Tupou (Keoki), Ted Nobriga (Kelolo), Elizabeth Logue (Noelani), John Cullum (Rev. Immanuel Quigley), George Rose (Capt. Janders), Lou Antonio (Rev. Abraham Hewlett), Torin Thatcher (Rev. Dr. Thorn), Michael Constantine (Mason, sailor), Malcolm Atterbury (Gideon Hale).
an extremely anal retentive, moralistic minister makes it hard for everyone, natives, whites and even his own family
Max Von Sydow is so wonderfully insufferable as the anal retentive minister that you just want to slap the minister in the face and tell him to stop being such an overbearing moralistic twat. This is a very one-dimensional character, who never fully realizes just what a miserable person he is.
He is hard on the natives, condemning every thing and any thing in their culture that is not straight-laced, overly conservative Christianity. This results in some great unhappiness for decent Hawaiian natives who just do not quite measure up to the minister's warped sense of propriety.
The minister's anal character is made worse by his obsession over his calling. He is an extreme workaholic with a wish to convert the Hawaiians to Christianity as quickly as possible. He does not realize it, but his very character limits his effectiveness.
Julie Andrews does a good job as the minister's long suffering, almost saintly, wife who never really gets through her husband's hard head and heart the message that he should just lighten up. How anyone could put up with such a man, I don't know.
The author of the book Hawaii, James Michener, does a good job of showing how unfair and inhuman cultural imperialism can be on all involved. It's also a lesson of the misery that can be caused by ethnocentrism. The minister's ethnocentrism blinds him to his own inhumanity and others' humanities.
Let's just hope that most of the American missionaries were not like Von Sydow's character.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
See Hawaiians (1970).
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