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Oceania 1917

Leaving San Francisco in June 1917, the Johnsons spent the next six months visiting the Solomon and New Hebrides Islands retracing Martin’s previous voyage aboard the Snark with Jack London.

Arriving on the island of Malaita, they spent a month visiting villages and the man-made islands of Langa Langa Lagoon and Lau Lagoon. In early August they traveled north to the island of Launguia in the Ontong Java atoll, where they filmed ceremonies and customs unique to the Solomons, including the large wooden and coral cemetery headstones. Afterwards, they moved on to Guadalcanal, San Cristobal, and Santa Ana islands.

After a trip to Sydney, Australia to develop their film, they sailed to the New Hebrides which lie south of the Solomons. They visited Vao and Espiritu Santo, then Malekula which was inhabited by the Big Nambas and chief Nagapate. Little affected by missionaries and traders, they were what Martin had hoped to find all along, but their stay ended abruptly.

In January of 1918 the Johnsons had enough high quality footage for a successful feature film, “Among the Cannibal Isles of the South Seas,” but bringing back the first images of actual headhunting in the South Seas had eluded them.

Photography note: Martin + Osa Johnson often used and experimented with different types of film and cameras in the field, and each took still shots and ran film footage.  Repetitions and duplicates of images in order and the repetition of the same images in later series numbers stem from the use of these different cameras, film types and each series may have been done by Martin, Osa or a mix of both.  The numbering system in the expedition photos is the one Martin created for their inventory. 

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