|If you have visited Maui, at some point, when you were crossing from the Kihei side to the Hana side, you probably cut through the sugar mill on Pu'unene Rd. Or should I say Poo Poo Nay Nay. Anyone who lives here in Maui knows the awful stench of sewage that the cane fields around the Sugar Mill sometimes reek of.|
Beyond the smell, the entire operation is strange. The second engima to me is this: How can this land can still afford to grow cane when the real estate market all around is skyrocketing property values? Every season the cane fields are burnt down sending smoke and ash snow across the island. The mill itself stands in almost the geographical center of Maui, alone among cane fields, the rusted factory looms with its smoke tower exhaust as a relic of a bygone era .
Today we often forget that our own cars' engines are machines of gears, cranks, hoses and pistons. In the movie "Enigma of the Mill" now showing at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Tom Sewell takes us inside the mill. The movie has the feel of Blade Runner and Mad Max. The machinery is awesome. What I think is so powerful about this work is this: there truly is so much that is going on under the hood. There are people here, putting together metal in ways that don't require I know computer science to understand. Its a kid's dream of big trucks and things that go.
The Enigma of the Mill never explains why the cane stinks so much, or how they get away with the awful burning, in fact it doesn't explain much, it just opens the hood and we get to see a powerful and beautiful display that reveals: there is no magic happening here, it's just big cranks and gears kept running by men. And that is what is magic about it.