By Erin Chew
Based on true events, The Wind & the Reckoning is a compelling story of oppression, colonialism and resistance. Set in 1893, It tells the story of the Hawaiian kingdom being overthrown by a Western power just as an outbreak of leprosy overwhelms the island.
Native Hawaiians suspected of contracting leprosy were mandated by the White Island authorities to be banished for life to a remote colony on the island of Moloka’i that is known as the island of the living grave.
Resistance to this mandate comes when Ko’olau (Jason Scott Lee) and his young son Kalei (Kahiau Perreira) contract leprosy and refuse to follow the mandate so as to not have their family separated. This sparks an armed clash with brutal White island authorities that will make Ko’olau and his wife, Pi’ilani (Lindsay Marie Anuhea Watson) heroes for the ages in a story based on one of the most epic events in Hawaii’s history.
The movie is a deeply layered tale that demonstrates resilience at a time when the colonialists ruled and when Native Hawaiians were disempowered and looked down upon. When communities become weakened, leaders, activists and heroes emerge from those communities, willing to stand up against a system that oppresses them. This point was discussed by Lindsay Marie Anuhea Watson who plays Pi’ilani– the heroine of the film in a recent interview with AsAmNews.
“For me, this is a very important story to tell and a great point of education. I was born, raised and went to school in Hawaii and I didn’t even know about this story, and I was so shocked to see this strong female heroine when the script fell into my lap. This story happened in one of the darkest points of Hawaii’s history, where Natives had all their power and humanity taken away. It was heroines/leaders like Pi’ilani who held their ground and fought against the oppression of their land. This is the story which young Hawaiians need to learn, respect and have pride in”, Watson said.
As a Hawaiian woman herself, Watson had a light bulb moment learning and playing Pi’ilani. She stated that history shows that women and more specifically wives were the glue and the strength holding families and communities together even when the situation was bleak, dark and sad. She wants the next generation of young Hawaiian women to know their roots, and understand how hard their ancestors fought to retain their identity, culture and traditions.
“This is our history, and only when we understand this, is when we have respect for our Native lands and know how they have been taken away and how our people have been forcibly removed from our lands. Our Hawaiian communities can only be empowered to keep changing Hawaii for the better by truly knowing what our ancestors went through,” she said.
Being a part of this film was an opportunity for Watson to play a character she could truly be proud of. Watson reflected that growing up she didn’t see the representation of Native Hawaiians in positive and empowering roles. When she got into acting, she almost gave up on the idea of seeing AAPI, Native Hawaiian and Polynesian representation and almost accepted that this would be the reality, until things started to change.
“Not seeing myself represented, particularly in my home of Hawaii growing up and when I just started acting, pretty much made me feel disempowered. I think I just accepted it and fell into line with any role I could do. I was auditioning and getting booked for Hispanic and Indian roles, but never for being AAPI or Hawaiian. Then things changed, Native Hawaiians were making and producing films, and authentic stories representing our experiences as AAPIs were coming out, and now I have the opportunity to be who I want to be and represent Hawaiians in the most genuine way possible – the sky the limit”, Watson expressed.
The Wind & the Reckoning has been released at different theaters across the country on different dates since 2022. Please check their screening schedule to see where the film will be screened next.
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