250781 Osa Johnson with pet birds at Tulagi, Solomon Islands 1917


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

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

This photo shows Osa with pet birds while staying on the island of Tulagi, off the coast of Ngella Sule, Solomons Island.  

After a trip to Sydney, Australia to develop their film, Martin + Osa 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 Nihipat. Little affected by missionaries and traders, they were what Martin had hoped to find all along, but due to a miscommunication, the Johnsons stay ended abruptly.

In January of 1918, Martin + Osa 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.

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