Mythologizing the history of Easter Island through documentary films
Documentaries have the power to rewrite history and perpetuate myths in our society. In the case of Easter Island, documentary filmmakers have sensationalized the history of the Rapa Nui people, dwelling on dramatic concepts such as eco-disaster, cannibalism and mysteriously vanishing cultures. As a result of poor filmmaking, we have a mythologized history of Easter Island. In my attempt to create a science-based documentary about an issue affecting contemporary Easter Island society, this mythologizing of history became a major obstacle. It became apparent that I had to first inform audiences to the fact that they had been misinformed by previous documentaries about Easter Island and I had to change their interpretation of the alleged facts. In my thesis paper I examine the documentaries that created sensational statements about the island and reveal why documentary filmmakers rely on dramatic elements. I also examine my approach to the process of making my graduate thesis film, Caballo Loco on Easter Island, and review the methods I used to ensure the people of Rapa Nui were accurately represented.