Unboxing the Silents: Tabu on Blu-ray

F.W. Murnau’s final film, Tabu, has come to Blu-ray and we are going to be taking a look at this release. Murnau collaborated with docudrama master Robert Flaherty (Nanook of the North) to create a story of romance and colonization in Bora-Bora. As always, thanks to Kino Lorber for the review copy.

Note: This is a review of the home video release, not of the film itself.

Tabu is a significant film for many reasons. It was the final film directed by F.W. Murnau before his death in an automobile accident. It is also a film that flew in the face of the then-unstoppable talkie revolution. Tabu is a silent film, shot on location with native actors. (May I put in a dig about Aloha here? Oh please, oh please.)

The Film

After Murnau assembled his final cut, about three minutes were shaved from the film’s release print. This restoration not only seeks to clean up dirt and scratches, it also attempts to restore Tabu to Murnau’s original vision. The restoration looks fabulous, especially on Blu-ray.

image via Kino Lorber
image via Kino Lorber

The Music

The original orchestral score by Hugo Riesenfeld was also restored and sounds clean and crisp.

The Extras

The disc comes with:

*The Language of Shadows: Tabu | A 15-minute documentary about the background and production of the film.

*Tabu: A Work in Progress: 15 minutes of raw camera footage with narration.

Tabu: Takes and Out-takes: 25 minutes of exactly what the title promises. (Murnau had ten hours of unused footage.)

Hunt in the South Seas: An 11-minute re-edit of some of Murnau’s unused footage released in Germany in 1940. The introduction is German text with burnt-in English subtitles.

*In German with optional English subtitles


Yes, fans of Murnau living in Blu-ray region A will be very happy to get their hands on the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung restoration. The film looks amazing.

Availability: The Kino Lorber release of Tabu is available now as a Blu-ray or DVD.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this film for free for the purpose of reviewing it on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”