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Hawaiian Rainbow / Kumu Hula: Keepers Of A Culture
In the 1970s, Hawai’i underwent what is known as the Second Hawaiian Renaissance, a period of renewed interest in native Hawaiian history, language, crafts, music, and dance. Out of that period of cultural resurgence came enormous social, cultural, and political excitement and activity which, to a great extent, continues to this day.
Inspired by what he encountered during his first visit to Hawai’i in 1986, filmmaker Robert Mugge joined forces with politician Dr. Neal Abercrombie (later to become the U.S. Congressman from Honolulu and then Governor of the state), University of Hawai’i musicologists Dr. Ricardo Trimillos and J.W. Junker, acclaimed kumu hula and educator Vicky Holt Takamine, and Honolulu Academy of Arts film programmer Ann Brandman to produce an 85-minute documentary on Hawaiian music, and then, with the help of Cove Enterprises executives Roy Tokujo and Ronald Letterman, an 85 minute documentary on Hawaiian dance.
In both cases, Dr. Abercrombie was able to convince his former colleagues in the state legislature to fund the films because of their educational and promotional value for the state.
HAWAIIAN RAINBOW, a 1987 film about Hawaiian music, examines Hawai’i’s traditional chants, percussion, ukulele, slack-key and steel guitar, male and female falsetto, and lush vocal harmonies, all of them accompanied by authentic Hawaiian hula.
KUMU HULA: KEEPERS OF A CULTURE, a 1989 film about Hawaiian dance, explores Hawaiian dance traditions going back to 500AD, when Polynesians arrived in the islands. Those traditions have been passed on from generation to generation by kahuna (priests and sages) and kumu hula (master teachers). In this film, shot at exotic locations throughout the islands, Vicky Holt Takamine and other respected kumu hula reveal ancient traditions that have survived and flourished in Hawai’i for hundreds of years. This is Hawaiian culture as few outsiders have seen it: rich, expressive, colorful, and totally unique.