As Kānaka continue to make appearances in the modern world, through music and film, an independent production based on real-life events has hit the big screen and did not disappoint. The Wind And The Reckoning follows the kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 which has been overthrown by western forces and plagued with leprosy. The film was a thought-provoking tear-jerker from start to finish, and the theater was filled with people of kānaka ancestry. I had been following the introductions of this film for a while and was ecstatic when I saw that it would show in a theater near me.
As the film begins, we are immediately thrust into a somber moment between kānaka cowboy Ko‘olau and his Ohana, wife Pi‘ilani and son Kalei. It seems that Pi‘ilani has just been made aware that her husband and child are infected with leprosy, and she wails in fear of the new laws the west has forced upon them. The law that any native Hawaiian found to be infected with the disease of leprosy will be ripped away from his community and forced to meet his doom in isolation with other lepers on the island of Molokai. Amazingly, Pi‘ilani is not infected but vows that no matter what, she will go down with her family, as she does not wish to move on or continue life without them. The family weeps together and plans to escape together the next morning. The landlord of their home, a local Caucasian uncle who owns the ranch on which they live, offers all the help he can give. One thing about the movie was that it portrayed examples of Caucasian allies, affirming that there do exist allies of the Hawaiian kingdom that are of Caucasian ancestry and more.
The film intensifies when the ohana is ambushed in the middle of the night by western authorities, who threaten to rip the family apart and encourage Pi‘ilani to move on with her life, as she is young and beautiful. Pi‘ilanis character displays a fierce loyalty to her ohana and she sneaks out to ambush the law force herself, enabling Ko‘olau to wriggle free from the grips of the western lawmen. The ohana narrowly escapes, as fire breaks out and guns are shot awry.
The film follows the family closely as they continue to evade captivity, and find other kānaka who are also evading capture. They hide in tiny caves atop the cliff side, while the western forces send in troops of law men led by a psychotic and obsessive captain McCabe. The troops are also led by Marshall Hitchcock, a Caucasian man who was born and raised in Hawaii and knows Ko‘olau and his ohana personally. Marshall Hitchcock struggles internally because he feels a kinship with the kānaka and does not wish to hurt them, but captain McCabe is a roaring tyrant who wants them brought in dead or alive. At one moment Marshall Hitchcock and Ko‘olau have a brief encounter. Both Hitchcock and Koolau could have killed each other but instead let eachother get away.
Towards the end of the film, Ko‘olau is almost killed by captain McCabe, but instead captain McCabe gets shot and killed by none other than Pi‘ilani, who defies Ko‘olaus orders to stay put and instead hides in a tree and snipes captain McCabe dead. Hitchcock calls off the hunt, and orders the troops away now that the crazy captain has perished.
Eventually, the film ends on a heavy note and we see Pi‘ilani laying her son and then husband to rest as they succumb to leprosy. Pi‘ilani lives on to become a figure of empowerment and sovereignty for her people, and passes along this touching and brave account. She never contracts leprosy and the film ends with real life photos of the individuals portrayed in the movie. Not an eye was left dry in the theater. This multiple award winning film will continue to show in theaters on Maui until December 4, 2022. Don’t miss it, especially if you are of kanaka ancestry. This was a great piece and a story I hope will reach an even larger audience.