That it was a story about affluent white people got my hackles up a bit, because it offers such a distorted view of what Hawai‘i is like to most of the people who live here. I did really like that the movie addresses this head-on; I loved that speech he made to Cousin Hugh at the King family meeting.
I had sort of strangely-colored lenses on while watching, because my boss Jackie said that the fictional King family makes her think of the way I talk about my family (large kama‘aina haole family, several generations born in the Islands, owns property). So I couldn't help doing the compare-and-contrast thing. The Kings are a lot richer than the Gills, certainly, and they've been in the islands a lot longer... they're somewhere between my family and the Campbells, and a lot closer to the Campbells at that. Like, they're a less-Hawaiian, less-famous, less-royal, less-influential version of the Campbells. Or maybe they're a bit like a whiter version of the Parkers. (Heck, they're a hell of a lot whiter than the Gills, at least if you take my generation into account. XD) Because it's an older family, it's a much bigger family, and they don't seem quite as close.
It was other parts of the movie that I found myself identifying with, parts relating to Matt and his immediate family. It was hard for me to watch the bits with Tutu Alice; Grandpa Tom didn't have quite the same affliction that she had, but I remember what it was like going to see him, all those years when he didn't have any idea who I was, kissing him on the cheek and smiling and loving him and knowing he must've been so confused, was trying desperately to keep up with what was going on around him. And I cried when they poured Elizabeth's ashes into the sea; it felt right, and real, and I thought a little bit of what it was like to inter Grandpa's ashes at Punchbowl, but mostly of carrying Uncle Kink's ashes in a gourd to the top of the very highest peak with the whole island stretching out beneath us.
And like... I was really really pleased with Matt's decision to try to keep the property, because the thought of that land being developed and turned into a resort just turned my stomach. And I know how he feels, about this place that has been special to his family for generations... if I ever have kids, I want them to have what I had, to spend hot nights out on the porch at the Kona property, lighting fireworks on New Year's Eve and dodging chores to play in the woods; I want them to run the paths and ditches of the Tantalus property with water guns during the day or flashlights at night, hunting their cousins from a tangle of bamboo or from behind a water tank; I want them to climb the 96-foot redwood tree at the Koke‘e cabin, and pick limes and plums and sour apples and mint, to roast marshmallows in the fireplace and read Eric Knudsen ghost stories and take showers by lamplight, to know the smell of things and the way the light comes in the kitchen windows; I want them to climb Konahuanui, many times, until it is familiar to them, to hike down the ridge to where the spirits of their great-great-grandmother and great-granduncle, both named Lorin, linger in the trees; I want them to know and love parts of Pālehua I haven't even discovered yet, to see the afternoon light on the cliffs above Nanakuli, or Pearl Harbor and the ‘Ewa Plains on a clear morning, or sunset through the eucalyptus trees at Lot A. I want these things for them, these children I haven't met yet, maybe never will. (Kinda hope I will, if I can find the time, and the support.)
I want my descendants to look back at our first few generations and, like Matt, want to do right by us.