Synopsis by Mark Deming
A stuffy French military man is transformed into a legendary Polynesian warrior in this light comic adventure tale. Capt. Alfred de Morsac (Thierry Lhermitte) is a French naval officer who, after distinguishing himself in battle against the enemy in Morocco, is sent to Tahiti in 1914, where his assignment is to persuade the natives to join the French army and fight in the trenches. However, when Morsac arrives in Tahiti, he finds that the island is ruled by Lefebvre (Francois Berleand), the French military governor who minds his charges with an iron hand, and is intent upon getting revenge on Meoata (Marie Trintignant), the widow of the last man who attempted to overthrow Lefebvre's martial regime. While Morsac, all starched uniforms and stiff upper lip, is a fish out of water in Tahiti, he soon decides that something must be done about Lefebvre's tyrannical oppression of his people, and Morsac attempts to intervene; while earning the admiration of the Tahitians, he ends up in prison for his troubles. But Reia (Anituavau Lande), Meoata's son, is convinced that Morsac is "Tefa'aora," a brave leader of local legend who will rise up to lead the Tahitians in a revolt to win their freedom. Morsac himself is less convinced, but he manages to escape from prison with the help of con man and fellow jailbird Barnabe (Patrick Timsit), and attempts to organize the islanders into a fighting force that can overthrow Lefebvre. Le Prince du Pacifique was directed and co-written by Alain Corneau, who previously worked with co-star Patrick Timsit in the international success Un Indien Dans La Ville (later remade in the United States as Jungle 2 Jungle).