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Tabu very nearly failed because of the clash in styles between its co-directors F. W. Murnau and Robert Flaherty, but it ultimately succeeded because cinematographer Floyd Crosby's work dominated the film. Murnau's greatest films -- Nosferatu (1922), Der Letzte Mann (1924), and Sunrise (1927) -- were noted for their superb visual design, particularly their highly stylized expressionistic sets. In Tabu, he faced the challenge of a film with no artificial sets, just the natural surroundings and occasional buildings of Polynesian life. Documentarian Flaherty was the master of exotic locations, experienced in filming in harsh, diverse weather conditions. As might have been predicted, Flaherty and Murnau had conflicting visions of what Tabu should be, resulting in Flaherty's leaving the project well before completion. What survives is arguably more Crosby's than Murnau's or Flaherty's. Unlike many cinematographers, Crosby was adept at shooting exterior sequences that involved open water. The result was a film good enough to release silent some five years after the advent of movie sound. Crosby won an Oscar for his work, and the distinction of causing the Academy to alter its rules, making travelogue films like Tabu ineligible for future cinematography Oscars. (The rule was later changed again, in effect rescinding the prohibition). Richard Gilliam, All Movie Guide