American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Rapa Nui" slips through the National Geographic Loophole. This is the Hollywood convention which teaches us that brown breasts are not as sinful as white ones, and so while it may be evil to gaze upon a blond Playboy centerfold and feel lust in our hearts, it is educational to watch Polynesian maidens frolicking topless in the surf. This isn't sex; it's geography.
For years in my liberal youth I thought this loophole was racist, an evil double standard in which white women were protected from exposure while "native" women were cruelly stripped of their bras, not to mention the equal protection of the MPAA. While watching "Rapa Nui," in which there are dozens if not hundreds of wonderful bare breasts on view, I have changed my mind. Since womens' breasts are the most aesthetically pleasing part of the human anatomy, it is only a blessing if your culture celebrates them.
The movie, which is sublimely silly, takes place in the South Seas in the carefree days before missionaries and other visitors arrived to distribute brassieres, smallpox, and VD. The action takes place on Easter Island, "the navel of the world," whose inhabitants languish under a senile king. The king is of the Long Ear tribe, which has enslaved the Short Ears and impoverished the island by building dozens of giant stone faces. The purpose of the faces is to attract the great White Canoe which the king believes will carry him off to heaven. No face can be big enough. "Build another one," he tells the slaves at one point. "Then take the rest of the day off." This is a king, played with superb comic timing by Eru Potaka-Dewes, who has lots of good lines. "Tell me you won't make fish hooks of my thigh bones," he tearfully implores his high priest.
The priest, however, has the movie's best line: "I'm busy! I've got chicken entrails to read!" Meanwhile, sweating slaves pull giant sledges and plot rebellion.