The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: A Sho in the Kalahari desert encounters technology for the first time--in the shape of a Coke bottle. He takes it back to his people, and they use it for many tasks. The people start to fight over it, so he decides to return it to the God--where he thinks it came from. Meanwhile, we are introduced to a school teacher assigned to a small village, a despotic revolutionary, and a clumsy biologist. Runtime: 109 mins Release Date: 09 Sep 1980
I've probably seen this film five or six times over the years, from its initial U.S. "art-house" run in the late 1980s I can still vividly remember my experience seeing it in the Coconut Grove theater near where I was going to university to last night. It's been one of my most consistent 10s. Although my ratings tend to fluctuate on multiple viewings for many films, I don't believe that I've ever thought The Gods Must be Crazy was lower than a 10.The film works so well because of its odd confluence of styles, which gradually merge. You could almost say the <more>
structure is Hegelian, with a thesis, two antitheses, and something of a synthesis at the end. The common thread throughout is a very tongue-in-cheek critique, in the mode of a parable, of both culture/society/civilization and views about culture/society/civilization, including politics, religion, mores, and so on.The film begins with the story of Xixo, or just "Xi" N!xau, in one of the many spellings of this actor's name and his fellow bushmen, who live in the Kalahari Desert. A narrator Paddy O'Byrne tells us about their lifestyle. Before long, this is contrasted with footage of life in the big city in Johannesburg. The narration continues with the same tone, as if we're unfamiliar with modern, western culture. We meet Kate Thompson Sandra Prinsloo , who is getting fed up with her white-collar existence. We move back to the bushmen. A man in a passing small aircraft nonchalantly tosses a Coke bottle out the window. It lands close to Xi, who has never seen anything like it before. Eventually it causes all kinds of problems and Xi tries to get rid of it. We are also introduced to a thread about Sam Boga Louw Verwey , who is leading rebels in Burundi. We see them try to assassinate the President. After this, they're pursued by the Burundian military. Meanwhile, Kate has decided to go to Botswana to be a teacher, and there she meets Andrew Styne Marius Weyers . Eventually, all of these threads come together.The plot may sound like a mess, and it probably would be under lesser hands, but producer/writer/editor/director Jamie Uys keeps the disparate threads remarkably focused and coherent. His timing for each and for the transitions between threads is impeccable, and the way they move together is nothing short of ingenious.There has been no shortage of ink spilled in often-negative criticism of The Gods Must be Crazy. Unfortunately, a lot of the criticism is ridiculous and profoundly misconceived. Many see the film as racist. A lot of people who can't comprehend the fact/fiction distinction have criticized the film for inaccurate portrayals of bushmen and other characters. Uys' humor and social critiques are frequently misunderstood.It's significant that O'Byrne's narrative tone is very similar to Peter Jones' narrative tone for "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Whether this was a direct influence on Uys is not as important as the contextual clues it provides the Hitchhiker's Guide mini-series featuring Jones was not completed until 1981, but the BBC radio show, which was the original format for Hitchhiker's Guide and which also featured Jones' narration, aired in 1978 . The narration is extremely tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic. Uys is spoofing bushmen, civilization, and also some of the misconceptions about bushmen. The narration is also meant as a kind of distancing technique. Modern western civilization is explained to us as if we're aliens learning about this world.This is all in service of a much more serious, different kind of point. The bushmen are shown as they are to enable a Lord of the Flies 1963 & 1990, based on William Golding's 1954 book -like examination of civilization. The bushmen are the schoolboys of Lord of the Flies in their initial shipwrecked state. The Coke bottle symbolizes the entrance of civilization in that "virgin" culture, and we see the havoc the new concepts cause. The Johannesburg and Burundi material both exist in the film to give us a "flash forward" to what that introduction of civilization can lead to. In the case of Burundi, it's a direct extension of the fighting over possessions, including land. In the case of Johannesburg, it's a spiraling web of miserableness. It's not a coincidence that the bushmen learn both violence and unhappiness when civilization appears, and it's not an accident that we initially examine these things from an "alien" perspective. Uys wants us to look at where we stand as a civilization and reassess it--an especially poignant message coming from a South African in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Don't forget that Xi is a hero here--he's the most authentic character in the film, and he's the one who enables the resolution of the dilemma in the climax.The material in Botswana, especially as the threads merge, suggests a kind of solution, a kind of balance, although it's significant that the solution is far from perfect, and to an extent, parties go their separate ways again. Uys seems to be saying that even if there is a solution to civilization's woes, it's going to be complex and probably less than perfect.Easing up on the analysis for a minute, all you may need to know is that The Gods Must be Crazy is a very funny but poignant film. The humor ranges from subtle and intellectual to crazy slapstick especially whenever Weyers is around--he's very gifted at slapstick . Uys delivers beautifully filmed exotic locations, a maybe surprising amount of violence in the Sam Boga segments although somewhat cartoonish and funny violence--these segments often resemble Woody Allen's 1971 film, Bananas , a lot of adventure, a fair amount of suspense, and even a charming romance.Do not let the ridiculous, negative ideological criticism dissuade you. This is a classic--a masterpiece--that presents both surface entertainment and complex, "deep" themes and subtexts. If you haven't seen it yet you must.
I remember the first 5 times I saw this movie I was laughing so much that tears rolled down my face. This movie was very well done and I have nothing bad to say about this movie. I definetly recommend this movie to anyone who wants to laugh.... and if it doesn't make you laugh then you better check your pulse.
The funniest and also the most wonderful movie I have ever seen (by bill.ryan)
I first saw it in San Francisco in 1984. At the end of the movie the entire audience stood and applauded. I was astonished, as I'd never experienced this in a movie theater. I was so delighted that I went to see it again the very next evening. Exactly the same thing happened: the audience - a completely different one, of course - again stood and cheered as the movie reached its unexpected conclusion. I was exhilarated, enchanted, and had tear-lined cheeks from laughing more than I have at any other movie I have ever seen before or since. Go to the ends of the earth to see this unique and <more>
hilarious commentary on human nature. After years of trying, I tracked down a used video to treasure; and may it someday be released on DVD.
I don't know that I've ever seen a movie that had such innocent joy - I'm not sure if any other movie I've seen had any innocent joy, for that matter.Perhaps what true joy I've seen in movies is civilized and therefore self-conscious.Anyway, you can look at the crazy civilized world through the eyes of these innocents and have joy about it instead of cynicism. Can ordinary pain relievers do that?The premise is how one empty Coke bottle in the garden of Eden could corrupt it. They do a totally believable job of it, too.Lots of laughs, kids loved it. I saw it in the theaters <more>
in the mid-80's and am glad I saw it again. You'll like it. It will lighten your heart.
An amusing film with a sound social statement. (by baw-1)
This has been one of my favorite films ever since it originally was first shown 20 some years ago. It's message and humor continue to be pertinent in today's world.
Masterpiece (by Swambi)
A unique film with a brilliant combination of slapstick, subtle humour, wonderful music, brilliant wildlife and scenic shots, all beautifully woven into a piece in an almost "road-style" movie around the adventures of a bushman. Like any story, there are some aspects which are slightly unbelievable if you stop to think - but the skill of the film is that it is sufficiently convincing to suspend such unbelief whilst you watch.The message of the film is brilliantly presented, subtly challenging the belief that white civilization has all the answers, gently poking fun at many of our <more>
western assumptions no idea why anyone thinks it's racist - it may be the opposite ! Some of the high points for me personally were the scenery, the wildlife, and the African huts, children and music. Having lived in Africa for 3 years it was absolutely true to life, and brought back fond memories. This is a classic that will bear watching time and time again, and so different from the run of the mill films generally churned out.A classic - 9/10.
Don't be put off by the talk of poor production values, bad dubbing, goofy Benny Hill-esque slapstick, and questionable acting. Once you get a look at the enormous smile on Xi's face, you'll forget all of that. This is one of the most gentle, pleasant, and likable movies I've seen in a long time all of that in a good way .I'd always heard about it, but somehow managed to miss it over the years. Finally saw it this weekend, and it's a real gem. For you DVD viewers, there's a documentary with interview footage of Xi. The only problem--no subtitles! Some bozo <more>
obviously blew it on the transfer, making it possibly the most frustrating doc ever produced...Be warned!
This is not a great movie but it uses the differences between the civilized white man against the uncivilized Bushman and with that simple tool it becomes hilarious. Civilized in the white man's eyes, I must add to that. This is one of those movies where every gag works, no matter how simple and silly it is. Most of the time the movie is slapstick comedy the way we see it in Chaplin- or Laurel & Hardy-shorts. We even have the fast forward sequence where people are running away from something.The movie opens with a look on the Bushmen and a narrator Paddy O'Byrne tells us what <more>
kind of people they are; friendly and without any knowledge about the world not that far from their Kalahari desert. When they see a plane they think it is a strange bird or even a god. One day a pilot throws a glass bottle out of his airplane and the thing is found by the Bushmen. They have never seen anything that is a smooth and hard as this object and they find it very useful. They think it is a gift from the gods. The problem is that the gods have given only one object and for the first time they have to share something that is very hard to share. For the first time they feel emotions such as anger and jealousy. It is decided that the thing is an Evil Thing and must be thrown of the earth and Xixo N!xau, a real Bushman is the one to do that. These early scenes give a very funny view on how the civilized white man has become what he is today.In the meanwhile we have met Andrew Steyn Marius Weyers who does field research not far from the Bushman and Kate Thompson Sandra Prinsloo who was tired of her job and now wants to do something with children in Botswana. Steyn must pick up Kate and bring her to the village and this is where the slapstick begins. Steyn is a man who gets very nervous when is around women and with Kate he must be the most clumsy guy there is. We have also met Sam Boga Louw Verwey who wants to do a coup but fails and he is now running for the police. We know how all these stories will come together but that is not a bad thing. It only uses the story to show us differences between people, to show that the white man is not necessarily the civilized man and it does this with great comedy. The Gods Must Be Crazy' with its simple humor works a lot better then most of the modern comedies. The way the Bushmen talk is funny enough to like this movie. Fortunately there is so much more including a little message.
Crazy, goofy, and silly are the three most operative words to describe "The Gods Must Be Crazy". But the movie is also very original. It's appropriate that the word crazy is in the title because this is the craziest movie I've ever seen. "The Gods Must Be Crazy" is a South African made comedy that was made back in the early 1980s but didn't get released until 3-4 years after shooting was completed. It became a surprise hit in the U.S. after it was released in 1984, and it did very well in other countries too. "The Gods Must Be Crazy" features three <more>
separate stories that get tied together towards the end. One story is about a bushman who goes on a journey to return a Coke bottle that he found to the Gods after the bottle starts causing harm to some of his family members. Another story revolves around a war that breaks out in Central Africa. And the other story centers around a clumsy scientist who tries to take a pretty South African woman to her new job as a schoolteacher in a small African village, and does everything wrong. This is my favorite part of the movie. The scientist is played by Marius Weyers, and he gives an inspired slapstick comedy performance. Some of the things that he does in the film had me exploding in laughter. The scenes with the jeep that he drives are priceless. Sandra Prinsloo is a good foil as the schoolteacher who unfortuneitly has no choice but to put up with his clumsiness. When Weyers and Prinsloo are on screen, "The Gods Must Be Crazy" is at its funniest. The other two stories are good, but not great. Nevertheless, there are some unusual scenes in these parts of the movie too. But the scenes involving the scientist and the schoolteacher are the best parts of "The Gods Must Be Crazy". It's too bad that they didn't turn up in the dull sequel. I think these parts of the movie alone is enough for me to recommend "The Gods Must Be Crazy". *** out of four