This fascinating film reveals an isolated community apparently lost in time, capturing in colour film the culture, traditions, music and civilisation of a society on the verge of being changed forever.
In 1790 the mutinous crew of HMS Bounty, led by Fletcher Christian, descended on an uninhabited two square mile crop of volcanic rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The nine sailors and 18 Tahitian men and women burned the Bounty and disappeared into their own world, thousands of miles away from anywhere.
There would be occasional visits from outsiders, but it would be almost 200 years before the tiny community of Pitcairn Island would face being fully dragged into the modern world. In 1962 a film crew captured a handful of days in the life of this extraordinary community, which by then still numbered just 128. The Pitcairn People, from the BP Video Library, is an absorbing look at this isolated society, ensuring a way of life which was about to be lost was recorded for posterity.
The footage shows the wildness and beauty of Pitcairn, but also portrays its isolation and the battle for survival. The truth of life here is far removed the idyllic image of a remote tropical island in the South Seas; life here is about hard work, limited resources, sharing and coming to terms with the 20th century. We visit the island’s church and school, watch the islanders at work, hear their music and meet the direct descendants of Christian, but we also share their loneliness and their fight for survival.
Interaction with the outside world at this time was limited to brief visits by passing ships every ‘once in a while’. This was a short opportunity to exchange handmade crafts for vital provisions and experience for just a few minutes what the rest of the world had to offer. The advent of electricity on Pitcairn brought unique challenges, and we see how the island’s sole generator led to a massive oil tanker being diverted, and how sacks of mixed currency from around the globe settled the fuel bill.
The Pitcairn People is a captivating look at an astonishing community.