THIS is my review of the film Tautoga Gausia (Broken Promise in the Samoan language) and possible lessons one can learn from it.
I finally got to watch the whole film last weekend after watching only the first bit in November.
The film is shot in Samoa by South Sea Pictures Ltd, a locally-owned film company.
The actors all speak in Samoan but sub-titles in English are provided.
The story is a love story. It is about the beautiful Teuila - the daughter of the chiefly family of Tafu’e - and Sam, a simple hardware staff.
Sam lives with her mother’s sister (and her children) in town while the parents (Filemoni and Sussana) live in the village.
Photo: Sam comes to Teuila's aid at the shop in the film Tautoga Gausia. (Pic from Tautoga Gausia Facebook page.)
The young people first meet in a store when Teuila was buying something and ran short of coins. Sam, standing nearby in the line, offers to help her.
Teuila accepts the offer but asks Sam for his phone number, with the intention to pay back the money he gives. Sam gives the number and Teuila later phones him and they meet for lunch.
The two start a relationship that goes well.
A bit later, another elder with his theological college-educated nephew comes over to Teuila’s house to ask her father (Tafu’e) for her hand in marriage. The father tells them that Teuila herself will decide despite the elder’s persistence in trying to convince Tafu’e that his nephew will make a very good husband for Teuila.
When Teuila speaks, she says she acknowledges the offer but declines to accept the proposal because she already has a boy friend.
It may have been the first time too for the parents to know about a boy friend.
At about the same time, Sam tells his aunt, whom he resides with, that he is befriending Teuila, the daughter of the highly-respected elder.
The auntie ponders over that and said it is okay, but then Sam has to check with his parents.
One day Sam’s aunt and Sam meet Teuila and her parents at a picnic resort and the aunt informs the girl’s parents about the pair’s relationship.
The girl’s parents acknowledge Sam’s aunt’s words and the possibility of the two marrying.
The talks that follow are that the marriage will be conducted in the girl’s parents’ church.
When Sam goes home to inform his parents, but with the father away and he was to get back to town, he therefore informs the mother to pass on the information.
When the mother tells the father, Filemoni gets angry, for one main reason. Sam, a Catholic, was falling in love with a girl whose family members were leaders in a protestant church. Filemoni’s past complaints about Sam living with his aunt and forgetting about them (the parents), and now with this, causes to him lose his temper. (In fact, Filemoni is a short-tempered man.)
He goes to town and tells Teuila’s mother (Tafu’e, the father, was away) that that there wasn’t going to any wedding because it is not right for them to have it in the protestant church.
He goes to Teuila and tells her the same thing. He also tells her that Sam will be marrying a Catholic girl - and not her.
The father continues on to Sam’s work place (and disturbs him in the office) telling him there was going to be no wedding.
When Sam tells him that that could discussed at home and not at the workplace, the father becomes angry. Were it not for the other workers who held him back, he could have smashed Sam with a chair.
After the father leaves, Teuila rings Sam and tells him that his father approached her and told her that he would marry a Catholic girl.
She weeps and tells him that she still loves him but wishes him all the best with the Catholic girl.
Sam later goes to their home and approaches the father while he was coming back from a fishing trip in his canoe. He asks Filemoni why he acted so rudely in approaching people in the manner he did.
The father is angry and beats Sam up at the beach calling him all sorts of names, leaving him with sand all over him after the struggle.
Sam cries out as the father is leaving: “Why are you doing this to me?”
Sam cries for a while there. Then he takes the canoe out to sea and commits suicide.
The next day when a fisherman finds his body and the news is spread, there is mourning everywhere – in Sam’s aunt’s house as well as Teuila’s house.
At the funeral service, when it was testimony time, the father gets up and says: “Sam died because he was a stubborn person and a coward.”
He could have gone on but another elder told him to stop and respect the purpose of the occasion.
The elder then said: “Are you going to take your anger to Sam’s grave as well?”
The father then marches out of the church.
Teuila turns up in her bride’s attire and places the ring on Sam’s finger saying she is married to him.
Later while everybody is at the funeral, the father goes into the bush and a change overcomes him. He sobs and cries for Sam.
My points: I think this is a first for Samoa – a film made by locals. For a Samoan movie, it is great and quite moving too. Some people have criticized the movie, saying it could encourage young people to commit suicide.
Personally, I do not think that would be so. Moreover, a lot of other lessons could be learned in the movie. One is, in certain instances, we must not contend with others too much to make things go our way – especially us adults when dealing with the young.
At times, we must let things go, if the young are willing to take another road, a road that is not necessarily dangerous and life-threatening.
And note: SUICIDE IS NOT A SOLUTION TO ANYTHING!
And note: SUICIDE IS NOT A SOLUTION TO ANYTHING!