It’s summer movie time and the movie publicity machine has been in full force. Everywhere you turn, you see promos and ads for Sex and the City 2, Iron Man 2, Eclipse, even Babies! Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I, for one, can’t wait to head to theaters to watch all of the aforementioned.
But there’s one film that escaped my radar. Until now. And now, I’m excited.
Princess Kaiulani has everything I love in a film — an historical setting, a charismatic heroine, beautiful costumes, and a based-on-a-true-story plot. What makes this film even better is that it tells the tale of the last Hawaiian princess. That’s right — it’s a period piece and it’s about Pacific Islanders!
The film takes place in the late 19th century, when Hawaii was still an independent kingdom but laboring under civil unrest and about to be annexed to the United States. Queen Liliuokalani was the reigning monarch, fighting to preserve the islands for her people. Her niece, Princess Kaiulani (played by Q’orianka Kilcher of The New World), is forced to flee to Victorian England and must learn to adapt to a new life. But when duty calls, the princess is forced to choose between an unlikely love and the fight for independence for her people.
There’s a lot of Hawaii love behind this film. Not only did Kilcher spend her childhood in Hawaii, but writer/director/producer Marc Forby says he was inspired by this Hawaiian-raised wife Leilani. “My wife grew up in Hawaii and I was very aware of the overthrow,” he says. “I saw a picture of the princess in the book store at Iolani Palace, the home of the last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, and it inspired me to carry out some research. There was something about her eyes that was very haunting. She symbolizes her nation and it occurred to me that she was the cinematic way to tell this great untold American story of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy by the United States.”
Indeed, the Hawaiian leg of the shoot included exclusive first-time access to interiors of Honolulu’s Iolani Palace, home to the Hawaiian monarchy.
Add one more to my must-see movie list this summer. Princess Kaiulani, a Roadside Attractions film, releases tomorrow, May 14.
Get more behind the scenes photos, videos and info at the film’s Facebook page.
Photos courtesy of Roadside Attractions.