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Fiji in Film

By Shane Hussein Posted 24 Mar 2014

Picture a setting with pristine white sand, turquoise waters and swaying palm trees. Over the water, the sun in beginning to set and you can hear the calm crashing of the waves on the shore. Such a scene could be found on any postcard or indeed any movie set on a tropical island.

In fact, such a scene is not uncommon in the island nation of Fiji, which is why the Pacific archipelago of 332 islands is a popular destination for filmmakers. From depicting a utopian paradise with idyllic beaches and tropical rainforests to a location of shipwrecked desolation and isolation, Fiji’s landscape has featured in many forms on film and here are some of the more well known features.

Blue Lagoon

This movie and its remakes tell the tale of a young boy and young girl stranded on a beautiful and tropical island. It is here that they learn to survive and eventually fall in love before being rescued.

The original 1949 version was partly shot in Fiji’s Yasawa Islands, while the updated 1980 version starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins, was shot on the island of Nanuya Levu. In 1991 the sequel, Return to the Blue Lagoon, was filmed in Taveuni, Fiji’s third-largest island. These movies all effectively demonstrate the tropical atmosphere of the country and its picturesque locations.

Cast Away

While Blue Lagoon showed the utopian side of Fiji, the country was also used as a backdrop to depict the hardship and isolation of surviving on a desert island in Robert Zemeckis’ 2000 hit film Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks. The film, which was shot in Fiji’s stunning Mamanuca Islands, narrates the desolation and struggle of a FedEx employee who becomes stranded on an uninhabited island. The film was a critical and commercial success taking over $400 million at the box office.

Survivor

Perhaps inspired by the movie Cast Away, the television series, Survivor, chose to shoot its 14th season of the CBS reality show in Fiji, at Vanua Levu – Fiji’s second largest island. Here two teams pitted against each other in a game of physical skill and political manoeuvring to become the sole survivor on the island and a $1 million cash prize.

Bollywood

Just as Fiji has been a drawcard for many Hollywood film makers, the same stunning scenery have spurred a number of motion pictures by the Indian film industry. Indeed, with over 30 per cent of Fiji’s population is of Indian decent it is little wonder that Fiji’s tropical islands are a popular setting for some successful Bollywood films.

In 2012, six Bollywood movies were shot on the islands including ‘Warning’, a horror movie, based on true events about a group of 20-somethings in shark- infested waters; and ‘Supermodel’, a romantic thriller featuring Veena Malik and Shmit Patel in a tropical island hotel.  

Fijian Films

While both Hollywood and Bollywood have produced a number of films in Fiji, local productions are scarce with only a single movie ever being produced – the 2004 film, “The Land Has Eyes” starring indigenous actress Sapeta Taito. The film revolves around Viki, a young Rotuman woman who is the daughter of a man wrongly accused of being a thief.

Although this is the only movie solely produced in Fiji, the Fiji Audio Visual Commission is determined to create a movie industry known as ‘Bulawood’ that will extend shooting locations to other South Sea countries.

With sun, sand and surf, stunning scenery and diverse culture, it is clear to see why Fiji has drawn so many filmmakers and travellers to the islands. In fact, travelling to Fiji is as simple as jumping on a flight to Fiji with Fiji Airways, the nation’s premier airline and then diving into the blue waters for an adventure of your own.

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