Rapa Nui (1994)



Tenuously based on the legends of Easter Island, Chile, this story details a civil war between the two tribes on the island: the Long Ears and the Short Ears. A warrior from the ruling class falls in love with a girl from the lower class, and must decide on his position in a time of great civil unrest. The ruling class are demanding larger and larger Moai (stone statues), a task which the lower class and the island ecology are more and more reluctant to provide.

Written by
Murray Chapman <[email protected]>

Genre: Action,Adventure,Drama,History,Romance

Rapa Nui (1994)
Release Date: 9 September 1994 (USA)
Country: USA
Director: Kevin Reynolds
  • Jason Scott Lee
  • Esai Morales
  • Sandrine Holt
  • Eru Potaka-Dewes
  • Emilio Tuki Hito
  • Gordon Hatfield
  • Frenxa Reuben
  • Hori Ahipene
  • Chiefy Elkington
  • Ruihana Rewa
  • George Henare
  • Rawiri Paratene
  • Pete Smith
  • Mario Gaia
  • Cliff Curtis

Incoming search terms

Rapa movies;Rapa Nui Movie;rapa nui 電影;

16 Responses to Rapa Nui (1994)

  1. octagonproplex
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    It’s like you DON’T want to make money! I’m waiting, and it better be pristine and letterboxed! Seriously, quit playing around.

  2. Jacksrevenge
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    I draw the conclusion that it probably wasn’t released in the US, was it?

  3. wmjgas59
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    No DVD, no VHS. NOTHING. I loved this movie, despite its oversimplification of the decline of the people on what we call Easter Island. The advent of Europeans did more to destroy the people there than they ever did.

    Lots of really A+ eye candy, a fun and somewhat campy plot, and really cool casting makes this one of my favorite flicks. Not great, but not bad, and certainly not worthy of being religated to being unavailable.

  4. Muleke
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    Roger Ebert wrote a book a while back titled something like ‘I hated, hated, hated, this movie,’ in which he included reviews of his least favorite movies. Few of the titles were surprising, but I was a bit puzzled by his inclusion of Rapa Nui.

    Mind you, I wasn’t totally surprised that he disliked the movie; after all, he panned Blade Runner (and then changed his rating later when it became an embarassment). No, it was the fact that of all the thousands of movies he must have seen, Rapa Nui stood out in his mind as particularly wretched.

    Rapa Nui?

    I read his review, and it was so incoherent I couldn’t actually figure out any single thing he really disliked (he mostly talked about breasts). His main problem seemed to be that the people in the movie had quaint customs that seemed silly.

    I was impressed by this movie precisely because it took me to a very different time and place, where the values and customs are unlike those of modern, first world people. Movies seldom do this so convincingly.

    I’ve always loved classic science fiction novels, and this movie really felt like science fiction at its best: the heroes are trying to survive the death throes of a totally dysfunctional society. In fact, Rapa Nui was far more like genuine science fiction than all those action movies that use an SF setting to sweeten the violent sequences.

    The plotting was very tight, with no pointless scenes or characters, and the story was engaging. The scene where they were cutting down the last tree in the universe (so far as they knew) for reasons that seemed compelling to them and yet were totally irrational, was really horrific.

    And personally, I liked the breasts.

  5. jeffyoung1
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    It’s not easy to discuss the 1994 movie RAPA NUI without involving the historical Easter Island.

    First, I enjoyed watching RAPA NUI in the movie theater back in autumn 1994. Rapa Nui did not receive major theater chain distribution. And it was even fortunate that were even commercials advertising the movie or I would have missed it altogether. I had to drive to a small, independant theater in downtown Seattle to watch RAPA NUI.

    The critics were not kind to RAPA NUI. They felt the movie aspired too much and didn’t achieve its lofty goals. I have no ‘bleep’ idea what these high-minded individuals were coming from. RAPA NUI was a drama and melodrama with elements of the action movie, alls set in a fictionalized historical setting. Maybe that’s what the critics were alluding towards. In any event, RAPA NUI is underrated and deserved more credit than it received.

    To better understand RAPA NUI, you should know the history of Easter Island. In spite of the example of man’s determination, courage, and resourcefulness in even reaching such a distant speck of island on the globe, RAPA NUI/Easter Island underscores the destructive effects of the dark side of man’s nature; the propensity for his hubris, shortsightedness, greed, arrogance, avarice, and its ultimate resulting in anger and mutual annihilation.

    The story of RAPA NUI and that of historical Easter Island is one of human-induced ecological devastation and eco-sytem collapse concomittant with social upheaval and collapse, degenerating into savagery and cannabilism. The moral is still prevalent today. People simply just cannot continue eating Mother Nature out of house and home, which is what occurred on Easter Island. The long-term catastrophe is that people end up eating each other, whish is also what occurred.

    The early Western accounts of Easter Island allude to a severely divided society of a socially and politically dominant caste ruling over a slave caste, remotely similar to ancient Sparta’s warrior class and the slave helots. Today the history is clearer and refers to intense rivalry between the clans of Easter Island, striving to one-up the other clans by building taller and taller moai statutes, the earthly representation of ancestral spirits and power. The island’s entire social system becomes geared to this intra-tribal clan statue race which requires the ever-increasing despoilation of land and usurpation of remaining natural resources. It’s like a Doctor Seuss story of the Sneeches trying to outdo one another, except the ending is catastrophe and tragedy.

    In the movie, Noro (Jason Scott Lee) wins the Birdman Contest and is set on righting the wrongs and injustices of the prevailing social system on Easter Island, but tragically, civil war breaks out on the night of his victory.

    RAPA NUI continues the now-disputed legend of the ‘short-eared’ natives rising up against their ‘long-eared’ ruling class. The more likely is that there was no such dualistic society on Easter Island. Historically, the clans are thought to have turned against one another in a downward spirl of increasing violence as competition for dwindling resources and remaining food sources intensified. RAPA NUI ends the movie according to legend. The long eared tribal clans people fruitlessly defended themselves behind a ditch of fire but to no avail. The pent-up anger, injustice, and hunger of the short-eared people drove them to exterminate the long-ears. What really happened was that the evolved tribal society of ruling chieftains and high priests completely broke down. In its place were bands of fierce, hungry, and violent warriors roaming the island, pillaging and slaying as they went. Much of the pillaging and slaying was to obtain food supplies, often including humans. Even children were not safe from the cannabilistic depradations of these wild men.

    RAPA NUI tries to end a small note of hope. Noro and Samana both escape the devastation on a small, sturdy boat built by Samana’s exiled father. But without maps, compass, or knowledge of the stars to guide them, their journey seems a long-shot.

  6. mach_10
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    …for a film so brilliant?

  7. mikeopuvty
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    I have. In that room : http://secure.ugc.fr/img/presse/CONFERENCEDEPRESSE/PHOTOSSALLES/BD/UGC %20LES%20HALLES.jpg

    Everything is going according to planB.

  8. burke2182
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    I remember the first time I saw this film, I was about 13. It came on late night on a saturday on showtime when most of the great movies come on. 10 years later I’m still in love with this movie. It amazes me how when a story never before really told turns out so beautiful and so in connection with history (the movie gave a perfect background of love to the truth that the island was ruined because of the creation of the massive statues, as well as the birdman competition for control of the tribes)is hardly noticed when a story thats been recycled for years and full of big names and lasts for 3-4 hours (titanic) is given all kinds of raves and awards. I have begun to notice an awful trend in movies that somehow seems both racially motivated and culturally motivated. movies that involve totally different lands or cultures are either made comically or not really seen for the beauty they are unless you throw in a tom cruise or a brad pitt. for the past 15 years, if a movies doesn’t have a big name A lister, come from a video game, last 3 hours with 5 years worth of cgi work, is the second third fourth rendition of, or have downright degrading comedy, it isn’t given a second thought. are people really so simple that they can mindlessly watch the same garbage repeatedly and ignore true cinema genius?

  9. jtrinc
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    So… any news on a possible US DVD release of Rapa Nui?

  10. drella666
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    In the olden days, when nice girls didn’t, and even Playboy models kept their legs together, one of the few places that a young, lusty man could see ladies with their tops off without blushing was in National Geographic. This was respectable, because they were ‘native’ women, and there was an anthropological respectability to the boob shots.

    I’ve always wondered whether the creators of Rapa Nui had the same idea: let’s create a thoughtful, serious piece about development, technology, power, war, etc – and put lots of hot, topless chicks in it!

    Just a thought.

  11. James J. Kim-2
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    Despite Mel Gibson’s alleged anti-semitic views (Come to think of it, producer Kevin Costner didn’t exactly prevent you from watching "Rapa Nui?"), do you plan to watch "Apocalypto" with the same level of anticipation and excitement that you had when you approached "Rapa Nui" for the first time?

    I am so excited by the release of "Apocalypto" later this year; ARE YOU? :)

  12. MommaBA
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    “I Want Immunity”.

  13. Darknezz
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    Hi, in NL and Belgium the dvd is no where else to find, how is it possible ? most of the movies are on dvd even the crap movies, and rapa nui isn’t, its a real shame !!!!!!!!!!

  14. Captain_Faramir
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    I enjoyed the film very much and has led me to discover as much as I can about Easter Island. I found this website which I thought was excellent all about Rapa Nui.


    Maybe you discern from far away the air of Númenor

  15. Silje_Irene_s
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    I Saw Mars Attacks today, been years ago since the last time i saw it. And there is a clip of Rapa Nui in it. I had to laugh, beacus i had just seen Rapa Nui for the first time.

  16. lancestarjumper
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    watch the trailer, the music is awesome, what is the name of the score,composer

    also, little known fact, music was also used in the teaser NOT trailer for Daylight 1996 , yep the Sly flick (crappy). Still that kind of music makes you

    shell out money for crap, which I did…. somebody help

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