After the success of Nanook of the North, Paramount asked its maker, Robert Flaherty, to shoot a film of life in Samoa. Moana was not the hit that Nanook of the North was, but it still was something of a landmark film; critic John Grierson referred to it as a documentary -- the first time this term was used. Although Flaherty knew next to nothing about the South Seas, he forged right ahead and found the tribal chief Savaii, who allowed him to film his people's day-to-day existence, including their capture of a sea turtle and a wild boar. Much of the film centers on Moana, the son of the tribal chief, and his romance with one of the native girls. According to Samoan customs of the day, a boy was inducted into manhood by a tattooing and piercing ritual, which is shown in detail ("may prove disagreeable to some women," trade paper Film Daily warned).
by Janiss Garza synopsis