Aloha

“BUMPY” KANAHELE STARS IN ALOHA
In 1993, “Bumpy” Kanahele organized an occupation at a famous tourist beach, protesting the illegality of America’s possession of Hawaiʽi, which was annexed by military force without a plebiscite. After fifteen months, Governor John Waiheʽe offered his group a 45-acre parcel if the protesters would leave. They agreed and received a renewable 55-year lease at a cost of $3,000 a year (about $60 annually per adult at the time). In 1994, the group proclaimed itself the Independent Sovereign Nation of Hawaiʽi. The film Aloha, filmed in part of their domain on the windward side of Oʽahu, definitely gets the Hawaiian sovereignty message out—that some do not accept the American takeover of the Hawaiian Islands. Although Kanahele’s role is in a subplot, the aloha that he shares with some of the lead actors is genuine, but the connection with the main plot of the film is a bit of a stretch. The film presumes that Kanahele was a wartime buddy of Brian Cooper (played by Bradley Cooper), who arrives at Hickam one day to provide computer launching of a satellite from Kaʽena Point, Oʽahu. Cooper is working for a tycoon, Carson Welch (Bill Murray) who is under contract with the U.S. Air Force to launch a satellite into space for reasons that become known later in the film. Upon arrival, Cooper is assigned to Air Force Captain Allison Ng (Emma Stone), a personal aide who incredulously claims to be part-Swedish and one-fourth Hawaiian despite having a Chinese surname. (Not only is her skin very white but she lacks the accent derived from the local creole language.) When the two meet Kanahele at his domain in Waiamanalo, he points out that the sky is the property of no human, whereupon Allison oddly assures him that the 1967 Outer Space Treaty bans the use of weapons in outer space. That line is the first clue about what the film is really about. When the full secret is later revealed, her fawning romance with Cooper ends until he later reveals his opinion about Welch’s intentions as if influenced by Ng. Other relationships, providing “sitcom” elements, also seem contrived to hold the attention of date night filmviewers. Director Cameron Crowe makes an effort to provide “trivial pursuit” nuggets of information about the culture of Native Hawaiians as well as some male and female hula exhibitions, but their role in the main plot is gratuitous. Absent from recognition in the film are the Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and multiracial residents who constitute at least half the population of the Islands. The title clearly does not convey the essence of the plot and appears to have been chosen without consulting local experts in order to qualify for the state’s tax credit as a film “promoting Hawaiʽi.” According to an anonymous crew member, the original screenplay “Dark Tiki” had more reference to the culture of Native Hawaiians than studio executives would allow. MH