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Case Number 25075: Small Claims Court

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Mystery of Easter Island

PBS // 2012 // 54 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // January 6th, 2013

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart thinks Easter Islanders would have loved to move their moai with computer animation.

The Charge

"For centuries, people have marveled at these giant stone statues that dot the windswept terrain of Easter Island."

The Case

There's something compelling about all those tiki statues you see in cool bars, but the real thing is even more fascinating—and it's not just because they're too heavy to lift. Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, has nearly a thousand moai, meant as stand-ins for ancestors. Apparently, they were carved and arranged without wheels or metal tools.

Mystery of Easter Island frames its story of the moai around an attempt to lift one of the heavy statues with ropes, just to prove it could have been done that way. Coupled with a recent viewing of Kon-Tiki on Hulu, it provides an interesting look at ancient ways of doing things, or at least the researchers who try to figure out how the ancient Polynesians did things. Easter Island also investigates how the islanders dealt with declining forests and poor growing conditions for crops, also interesting topics, even if they're not as much of a curiosity as moving the moai.

It's interesting to note that the researchers did extensive surveying of the terrain and prepped participants with a computer-animated walking moai. Ancient Polynesians didn't have surveys and CGI at their disposal, which means that it's still a neat feat even if we now know the answer. It also reminds us that life once took much more ingenuity than it does today.

Picture quality is good throughout; there are no extras.

Mystery of Easter Island is interesting, but the DVD doesn't add anything to the single episode of Nova. I'd look for it on TV, online, or at the library, but it's not worth a purchase for the average viewer.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: PBS
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 54 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Historical
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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