Film: 9556

Places + Locations | 1950 | Sound | Colour

Synopsis:

Opening sequences show world map giving location of Samoan Islands in particular Western Samoa 1950's

Some of this sequence is repeated at the end of the film. Apia only major town in Western Samoa. Apia harbour and waterfront. Apia town centre. In 1899 Robert Louis Stevenson arrived with his family in chartered schooner. Samoan women with children in modern dress. House designed by Stevenson on the slope of Mount Via. Good views of house and gardens. Shot of study where Stevenson worked on 'Kidnapped' and 'Treasure Island' and his last and unfinished novel, 'Weir of Hermiston'. Fireplace. Plants and flowers in full bloom surrounding Mount Via. Stevenson died in Samoa, and was buried on Mount Via. Contemporary footage of Samoan dress and housing which has retained its traditional form. Discussion of Samoan houses which are thatched and made with timber from the local forest. Blinds are used for protection from the weather and are made from vines from coconut plants. Two young Samoan boys set off for school. Young girls look after young babies taking charge when they are not at school. Handwoven mats are taken out to be aired. Schoolhouse on Manono Island built with the proceeds from the annual longboat race. Western Samoa now independent with it's own flag and national anthem. Medium shot and close ups of Samaon children in traditional dress. Samoan flag being raised . Samoan women with flowers in their hair stand to attention as flag is raised. Young boys bring coconuts from the plantation. Shores and lagoons with young people swimming. Fathers and uncles fish beyond the coral reef in the open sea, in open boats. Young boys catch Octopus. High chief sends his twin granddaughters fishing for sea slugs while he casts a small circular net in shallow waters a traditional method of fishing used by native people in many countries. Small catch of sea slugs and other fish in basket. Heavy rainfall combined with tropical heat produces an abundance of vegetables, fruits and flowers. One such flower is the honey eating parrot. Kapok tree and beds with Kapok stuffed mattresses. Bread fruit trees an important part of the samoan diet. Banana trees with fruit and flowers evident. Coco Beans for chocolate making. Beans prepared by washing and fermentation. Beans laid out to dry in sun. Young boys assist men on coconut planatation. Donkeys carry back baskets to drying sheds. Coconuts are split open and put out to dry. This becomes Copra a valuable commodity for export. Over 100 commodities are made from ther coconut palm. Coconuts also make a up a constituent of Samoan cooking. Young men prepare the food. Son of high chief strips coconut of its husk. Elaborate tattooing on his body indicates he has reached manhood. In cooking the oven in heated by heating stones over a wood fire and by placing the food on hot stones. More stones are placed on top, then a final cover of green leaves. When meal is prepared it is taken to the high chiefs house. His house is symbolically and literally higher than the houses of the other islanders to signify his status. High chief then the rest of the family eat. Octopus soup with coconut cream has been prepared and eaten with banana leaf plates. On Sunday instead of a gong a hollow log is used to summon worshippers to prayer. Local church built by village carpenters. Today is White Day a childrens day. On this day of the year the children are waited on by the adults in the family. Several villages make long boats which are up to 100 feet in length to accommodate 44 oarsmen. Each year they compete in races. Training is tough and in Apolima village the team are coached by their captain. On the day of the race crowds gather early in the morning along the waterfront. The long boats have already made their way to the starting point, five miles out in the open sea. The Polynesians have been called the Vikings of the sunrise, and it is at sunrise that the race begins. Close ups of men racing. Towards end of race boats attain speeds of 10 knots. Apolima boat wins race. Crowds celebrate and villagers carry boat ashore. The £500 prize money will enable the villagers to build another school.


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