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An analysis of Samoan reaction to The Orator (O Le Tulafale)’s Fāgogo defining Samoan identity
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, English. University of Otago .
2013 (English)Student paper otherStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The Orator (O Le Tulafale) was promoted as the first Samoan language film shot in Samoa with a Samoan cast and crew. Written and directed by Samoan filmmaker Tusi Tamasese, the film succeeded at several of the movie industry’s prestigious festivals. The Orator (O Le Tulafale) is about an outcast family of a dwarf (Saili), his wife and her teenage daughter. As the main protagonist, Saili battles to overcome his fears to become a chief to save his family and land. The film’s themes are courage, love, honour , as well as hypocrisy, violence, and discrimination. A backlash by Samoans was predicted ; however, the opposite occurred. This raised the following questions: first, what is it about the film causing this reaction? It is a 106 -minute film shot in Samoa about Samoans and the Samoan culture . D espite promotional claims about the film , there have been Samoan -produced films in Samoa . Secondly, to what are Samoans really responding? Is it 1) just to the film because it is about Samoa, or 2) are they responding to themselves , and how they reacted during the act of watching the film? This implies levels of reactions in the act of watching, and examining the dominant level of response is important. To explore this, t he Samoan story telling technique of Fāgogo was used to analyse the film’s narration and narrative techniques. R. Allen’s (1993, 1997) concept of projected illusion was employed to discuss the relationship between Samoans and the film developed during the act of watching. An examination of the term Samoan and a description of the framework of Fa’a Samoa (Samoan culture) were provided. Also included were discussions of memory and its impact on Samoan cultural identity. The analysis indicated that The Orator (O Le Tulafale) acted as a memory prompt through which Samoans recalled memories confirming and defining cultural bonds. These memories constituted the essence of being Samoan. These memories were awakened, and shared as oral histories as fāgogo. The receivers appeared to interpret the shared memories to create their own memories and stories to suit their contexts, according to Facebook postings. An interpretation is that the organic sharing of memories as fā gogo created a global definition of Samoan that Samoans internationally claimed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Culture, Film, Identity, Memory, Samoan
National Category
Cultural Studies Ethnology History Media Studies Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-13092OAI: diva2:652865

This research paper was required as partial fulfilment for Masters in Indigenous Studies. A copy is held at the School of Maori and Indigenous Studies, University of Otago's research database. 

Available from: 2013-10-02 Created: 2013-10-02 Last updated: 2015-09-03Bibliographically approved

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