The Gods Must Be Crazy is a 1980 film written and directed by Jamie Uys about a Bushman traveling to get rid of a Coca-Cola bottle and how he encounters modern civilization. This film is a collision of three stories. The first story is the journey of Bushman traveling to the ends of the world to get rid of a Coca-Cola bottle that is causing chaos to the village; the second story is one of a romance tangle between a school teacher and a scientist and finally the story of a band of guerrillas on the run. The director uses this film to pass out his intended message and at the same time providing his audience endless comic relief for the whole family.
The story starts by presenting the audiences with distinct differences between the primitive culture of the Bushmen community and that of the modern technological-superior culture. Despite the harsh Kalahari Desert environment, the Bushmen community lives well amongst one another with no laws, violence or turmoil. This happy-like life originates from the fact that their gods have provided them with plenty of everything they want and nobody has any unfulfilled expectations. To add more to their plenty basket, one day a moving airplane drops a glass Coca-Cola bottle. The village is happy with this gift and finds many uses for it. However unlike the many gifts from their gods, this bottle exposes the tribe to many vices amongst them, anger, envy, jealousy, violence, and hatred.
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With the tribe in chaos, Xi, an elder and the original discover of the bottle decides that the bottle is evil, and it must be thrown off the edges of the world. Xi sets on a journey all by himself and for the first time comes face to face with civilization.
The director introduces us to the second story in the film when he introduces two of his characters, biologists Andrew Steyn and Kate Thompson, a former newspaper who had come to Africa as a missionary school teacher. This two seem to develop a love relationship between them despite the shy nature of the biologist. All was not cozy in their relationship, the constant chaos from the impudent safari tour guide, Jack Hind, and the run-away guerrillas are some of the challenges they have to endure. This, on the other hand, acts as a good comic relief from the film director to its audience.
Xi on the other part continues his journey towards the edge of the world. In his journey, he fells hunger and oblivious to the laws of society, shoots and kills a goat with his tranquilizer arrow. He is arrested for this crime and jailed for three months. However, luck finds him when he is taken from jail by M’pudi and Steyn and hired to be their tracker for the remaining eleven weeks of his prison sentence. Upon completion of his jail term Steyn allows Xi to continue on his mission.
Upon covering endless miles, Xi eventually reached the top of a cliff. He observed a solid layer of low-lying clouds, and this convinces him that he has reached the end of the world. He throws off the bottle and sees it roll down. This assures him that the gift is back to their gods and returns to the village. The film ends on a celebratory note where Xi is warmly welcomed with his family.
The films the “Gods must be crazy” although approached in a comic manner was successful in accomplishing the intended purpose set out to do. This was made easy through the different actors who were able to fit in their roles perfectly. For instance, Xi was acted by N!xau a native resident, his understanding of the culture made it easier for him to act in the play, Andrew Steyn was acted by Marius Weyers, Kate Thompson was acted by Sandra Prinsloo and M’Pudi was acted by Michael Thys. All these actors are professional thus making it easy for them to execute their roles perfectly. The following are some of the notable themes the director clearly communicated in the film.
This is a very important theme in the film, and it is clearly shown through Xi’s tribe. Despite the limited resources within the desert, Xi’s clan seemingly lived amicably amongst themselves. The villagers knew how to cherish everything they got from their gods without regarding them to be either good or bad. Everything was taken in as communal and nobody cared to possess anything. This fact was confirmed when the Coca-Cola bottle threatened to disunity the village through greed and power. This was however prevented when Xi the main character decided to return the bottle to the gods.
The director discussed this important theme throughout the whole movie. Arguably the movie could not have come in a better time than that. Jamie Uys being from South Africa set out to bring out the impact civilization and apartheid were having in his country. This theme is shown through the domineering positions and the influence the white man has over the black. However, there is also the positive side to it and it is seen when Kate Thompson volunteers to come to African and help promote education.
Upon hearing the film’s title, one will be keen to see the different religious angles the film director took with his movie. Apart from the fact where the Bushmen community appreciates and see everything they have as a gift from their gods and the fact that Kate came as a missionary teacher, the films did not center on religious issues. The movie title can be seen only as a sneak comic preview on what the audience should expect from the film.
Different individuals view civilization in different angles. The ability of the director to clearly help us understand this is one commendable job he did to the movie. He was able to help us see how the bushmen community perceived civilization without losing his comic angle something tough to pull through more so in a comic film. Despite this great job, there is a shortcoming I found in the movie. For one to understand the humor in the movie, they must first understand the thought and motivation of the Bushmen actions. I found this to be rather strenuous more so considering it is a family comical movie.
The Gods must be Crazy stood out for me as a movie. The ability of the director to communicate sensible issues within a comical movie was among the factors that made me love the movie more. It is also worth noting the movie character’s role. Xi, the main actor, was so instrumental in articulating his community’s way of life, more so because he originates from the clan he represented in the film. Environmentally the film setting was perfect and in line with the films messaging. It also helped pass the message that we should never litter for we never know what our litter means to another person’s life. Despite its year of release, The Gods must be crazy is a must watch for any comic lover and should be regarded as a treasure.
The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980). Web. April 26, 2016
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