Rebuilding a Culture One Theory at a Time

I just finished as an Associate Producer and Fixer on a new National Geographic / NOVA special about Rapa Nui (Easter Island) produced by Committee Films.

The documentary uncovers the realities of the "collapse" theory about the island and it's culture.  This old theory, which has it's roots starting way back in the 1970's was popularized in a chapter of Jared Diamond's recent book "Collapse".  In the book he repeats the old worn theory that the Rapa Nui people destroyed themselves and their culture because they were irresponsible with their land, and greedy towards one another.

Because of this theory, many people across the globe (those who actually know what Easter Island is) are shocked to hear that there are people who live there.  Then, the common assumtion is that these people have no relation to the past culture which built the giant stone statues.  What is even more sad, is that the native guides that regularly give tours to visitors, repeat this "collapse" story as it if were true.

The documentary isn't programed yet for broadcast, so I can't say too much about the content.  But the one-liner is: The collapse theory is false. There is no proof that backs its claims.  The proof that we do have paints a story of survival and prosperity, not of death and dissaster.  

The documentary follows the work of native archeologist Sergio Rapu Haoa, and Dr. Terry Hunt and Dr. Carl Lipo.  The documentary is based off of the book "The Statues that Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island"  Check it out if you want a sneak peek.

Check your local PBS listings around May 2012, or stay tuned to this blog or my twitter feed and I'll try and spread the word when it comes out.

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This is a repost from my personal blog at

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