Reaction on “Act of War”

Before coming to Hawai’i for my studies I read a lot of books about these islands, to be as informed about my new temporary home as possible. I must confess, I thought I knew about the History of Hawai’i. But after we watched Act of War I recognized that there is one important event missing in all the books I read: the overthrow of the Hawaiian nation. It seems like America wants us to forget, or even worse, not hear what happened to the Hawaiian nation in January 1893 in the first place.

In 1893, in the mid of January, armed troops landed in Honolulu to support the coup d’état against Queen Lili’uokalani, at this time constitutional sovereign of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

The event was later described as an act of war by president Grover Cleveland and then was forgotten by a majority of the U.S. citizen.

Different to most history books, the documentation „Act of War- the overthrow of the Hawaiian nation” tells the story through the eyes of local Hawaiians. The producers Puhipau and Joan Lander did a great job by working with old pictures, original video footage and cartoons and bringing them to life through voices who either explain the history or read old letters. Hawaiian songs underline the story and pictures were used to demonstrate the told: a video of a wave breaking when the voice says “collapse”, short sequences that contrast Hawai’i before and after this event such as the crowded beach of Waikiki and videos of the police fighting someone.

Act of war was published in 1993, the same year in which the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution admitting the illegal taking of Hawai‘i and President Clinton formally apologized for what happened back then. 100 years after the coup America admitted what they had done, but it does not give the Hawaiians back what they’ve lost: their kingdom and home.


  1. It’s so interesting how so much is left out in history books, and i’m speaking on behalf of all history books, not just Hawaii. The documentary was very will written and shot. It’s different seeing an opinion from a Native Hawaiian. People love to leave out things from the past. I am a little mad at what happened but in this day and age what can we really do? I mean we can change a lot of things and give a lot back to us Hawaiians, but what else can we do with all of this development already here?

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