Enchanting pic documents Waikiki from its Polynesian past as a royal reserve for Hawaiian chiefs and its days as a playground for beach boys and stars, to its present day role as one of the world’s leading urban resorts. “Waikiki’s” charming past is unfolded through re-enactments, archival photos and footage, film and TV clips, a sonorous soundtrack of Hawaiian music and contemporary sequences and interviews. Pic, which possesses a hefty showbiz angle, merits distribution in educational, ethnic and docu venues — especially on cable channels and Hawaiin resort hotel small screens, plus fest and museum circuits.
Appropriate aquatic opening re-enacts an ancient Hawaiian myth at a waterfall that feeds the streams of Waikiki (“spouting waters”). An erupting volcano suggests the creation of the now extinct crater of Mount Leahi — which was called Diamond Head by British sailors who mistook its “glitter of calcite crystals for diamonds.”
Pic chronicles the many celebs who have been attracted to this square mile of sand and sea over the years: from Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson hobnobbing with Polynesian royalty to Jack London surfing to the Hollywood and aristocratic royalty who gave Waikiki a deep sheen during its glamorous golden age before and after World War II.
Such nostalgia is set against the broader sweep of island history that includes the dispossession of native Hawaiians, as islanders lose their lands and various influences of different Asian-Pacific settlers.
Generally upbeat docu sometimes takes on a mournful, elegiac tone for times, people and places lost.