Easter Island: Mystery & Magic
Science rediscovers the People Behind the "Moai".
Easter Island is the most remote inhabited place on our planet. For 1,500 years, this isolation has acted as both a shelter for -- and a curse upon -- the island’s indigenous Rapa Nui people. Trapped on their 64 square miles of land – 4,000 kilometres from their nearest neighbour -- the Rapa Nui eventually used up their limited resources only to see their tropical paradise transformed into a bleak prison filled with chaos, warfare and cannibalism. The Easter Island landscape today offers up a desolate beauty like nowhere else on earth… Facing in from the sea in their eternal vigil, each evening, the "Moai" are participants in an incredible display of hues--living colours--brought momentarily to life as the tropical sun once more bathes their stone faces. Shot completely in the new High Definition Television format, this documentary for the first time immerses viewers into the hauntingly beautiful world of the "Moai” and the ways of the Rapa Nui People. Science Discovers the People Behind the "Moai": If distance and isolation are a measure of mystery, than Easter Island is the most mysterious place on this planet. Long the subject of conjecture and fascination, recent new scientific and archaeological discoveries have shed light on the people who first inhabited this remote triangle of land. Paradise Found: A group of hardy seafaring Polynesians first reached the island in about 400 AD. They found a lush tropical island - a paradise of tall palms, clean water and abundant fish. With such gifts from nature a complex civilization soon flourished. The people called themselves and their Island, Rapa Nui. From the original settlers of a few hundred, Rapa Nui culture and population exploded. By the 1400's over 15,000 people inhabited the tiny island. Powerful clans ruled, and they expressed themselves in sculpture, art and by creating a written language. For the Rapa Nui, the future seemed assured. Paradise Lost: Rapa Nui life revolved around the canopy of giant palms the original settlers discovered. The palms were a source for canoes, food, clothing, tools and they provided the rollers necessary to move the large carved heads from the quarry to the seaside pedestals called Ahu. But by 1500's, the palms were all but cut down and the rains had washed most of the topsoil into the sea fowling the near shore fishing beds -- the civilization was threatened. Without canoes to fish in deeper water or soil to grow more food, the Rapa Nui faced imminent starvation. The ruling families waged war for what little food remained as rival groups toppled each other's "Moai." With nowhere to turn for aid, the Rapa Nui social system fell into chaos: cults formed, warriors took what they wanted and cannibalism was rampant. On Easter Island, civilization came to a crashing end with the population falling to 120 souls. Today’s 4000 Rapa Nui are the descendants of these few survivors. Easter Island: Eyes of the Moai is the first documentary to focus on the rise and fall of the Rapa Nui people -- a story with a message that all too closely parallels the current situation facing the inhabitants of Island Earth.