The Gods Must Be Crazy

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The Gods Must Be Crazy
Gods must be crazyposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJamie Uys
Produced byJamie Uys
Written byJamie Uys
StarringNǃxau
Marius Weyers
Sandra Prinsloo
Louw Verwey
Michael Thys
Narrated byPaddy O'Byrne
Music byJohn Boshoff
CinematographyBuster Reynolds
Robert Lewis
Edited byStanford C. Allen
Jamie Uys
Distributed bySter Kinekor (SA)[1]:77
20th Century Fox (US)
Release date(s)
  • 10 September 1980 (1980-09-10) (South Africa)
  • 9 July 1984 (1984-07-09) (US: Limited)
  • 13 July 1984 (1984-07-13)
Running time109 minutes
CountrySouth Africa
Botswana
LanguageEnglish
Afrikaans
Juǀʼhoan
Ungwatsi
Budget$5 million[2]
Box office$34,331,783
 
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The Gods Must Be Crazy
Gods must be crazyposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJamie Uys
Produced byJamie Uys
Written byJamie Uys
StarringNǃxau
Marius Weyers
Sandra Prinsloo
Louw Verwey
Michael Thys
Narrated byPaddy O'Byrne
Music byJohn Boshoff
CinematographyBuster Reynolds
Robert Lewis
Edited byStanford C. Allen
Jamie Uys
Distributed bySter Kinekor (SA)[1]:77
20th Century Fox (US)
Release date(s)
  • 10 September 1980 (1980-09-10) (South Africa)
  • 9 July 1984 (1984-07-09) (US: Limited)
  • 13 July 1984 (1984-07-13)
Running time109 minutes
CountrySouth Africa
Botswana
LanguageEnglish
Afrikaans
Juǀʼhoan
Ungwatsi
Budget$5 million[2]
Box office$34,331,783

The Gods Must Be Crazy is a 1980 South African comedy film written and directed by Jamie Uys. Originally released in 1980, the film is the first in The Gods Must Be Crazy series. Set in Botswana, it tells the story of Xi, a Sho of the Kalahari Desert (played by Namibian San farmer Nǃxau) whose tribe has no knowledge of the world beyond. The film is followed by one official sequel and three unofficial sequels produced in Hong Kong.

Plot[edit]

Xi and his San tribe are "living well off the land" in the Kalahari Desert. They are happy because of their belief that the gods have provided plenty of everything, and no one among them has any wants. One day, a Coca-Cola bottle is thrown out of an airplane and falls to Earth unbroken. Initially, Xi's people suppose this strange artifact is another "present" from the gods and find many uses for it. (They employ it as a crafts tool, blow the top to make music, etc.) But unlike anything that they have had before, there is only one glass bottle to go around. With everyone wanting it at once, they soon find themselves experiencing envy, anger, and even violence.

Since the bottle has caused the tribe unhappiness, Xi consults with elders and conclude that it's an "evil thing" which the gods were "absent-minded" to send them. Noting that some attempts to dispose of the bottle have failed, Xi agrees to make a pilgrimage to the edge of the world and toss the seemingly cursed thing off.

Along the way, he encounters a diverse assortment of people. There's biologist Andrew Steyn, who is studying the local animals; Kate Thompson, the newly hired village school teacher; a band of guerrillas led by Sam Boga, who are being pursued by government troops after an unsuccessful attack; a safari tour guide named Jack Hind; and Steyn's assistant and mechanic, M'pudi.

When hungry Xi happens upon a corral, he shoots a goat with a tranquilizer arrow. He is shortly jailed for this attempt on livestock. M'pudi, who once lived with the San and still speaks Xi's dialect, concludes that Xi will die if kept incarcerated. He and Steyn apply to employ Xi as a tracker for the remainder of his sentence in lieu of prison. Meanwhile, the guerrillas invade Kate's school and take her and the students as human shields for their escape to the neighbouring country.

Steyn, M'pudi, and Xi soon discover their field work (observing the local wildlife) is on the terrorists' chosen path. They manage to immobilize the guerrillas as they are passing by and save Kate and the children.

With Xi's term over, Steyn insists upon paying his wages and sending him on his way. Steyn begins a relationship with Kate despite his acute clumsiness around women.

Xi eventually finds himself at the top of a cliff with a solid layer of low-lying clouds obscuring the landscape below. This convinces Xi that he has reached the edge of the world, and he throws the bottle off the cliff. Xi then returns to his tribe and a warm welcome from his family.

Cast[edit]

Release[edit]

The Gods Must Be Crazy was released in South Africa in 1980 by Ster Kinekor Pictures; it became a box-office record breaker in that country.[1]:77 For the film's overseas release, the original Afrikaans dialogue was dubbed into English, and voiceover work was provided for !Kung and Tswana lines.[1]:76 At the time, it broke all box office records in Japan and it broke all box office records for a foreign film in the United States.

In mid-November 1986, The Gods Must Be Crazy was released on videocassette in the U.S. by CBS/Fox[3] through their Playhouse Video label.[4]

Reception[edit]

Based on nineteen reviews, The Gods Must Be Crazy has carried a 95% "Fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes.[5] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, and said, in his conclusion, that "It might be easy to make a farce about screwball happenings in the desert, but it's a lot harder to create a funny interaction between nature and human nature. This movie's a nice little treasure".[6]

Aftermath[edit]

Despite the film's having grossed over $100 million worldwide, Nǃxau reportedly earned less than $2,000 for his starring role. Before his death, Uys supplemented this with an additional $20,000 as well as a monthly stipend.[7]:186

Extras[edit]

The film claims the guerillas attacked the state of Birali, yet on the zoomed in map it appears to be in the general area of Zaire or Angola. When the rebels attack, both the Zaire and Angola flags are clearly visible in the council chambers.

The guerillas are trying to flee by land through Botswana to Mozambique. Mozambique and Angola are both Portuguese colonies so this makes sense. However, Botswana does not share a border with Mozambique.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Pfaff, Françoise (2004). Focus on African Films. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-21668-0. 
  2. ^ Gugler, Josef (2003). African Film: Re-imagining a Continent. Indiana University Press. p. 74. ISBN 0-253-21643-5. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  3. ^ Hunt, Dennis (14 November 1986). "'Gods Must Be Crazy' Drops Into Video Stores; 'SpaceCamp' Is Set for Modest Blast-Off" (Registration required to read article). Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). p. K18. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  4. ^ James, Caryn (14 July 1987). "The Gods Must Be Crazy yea(1981): Home Videos; Sophisticated Silliness". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  5. ^ "Reviews for The Gods Must Be Crazy". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  6. ^ "The Gods Must Be Crazy Movie Review". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  7. ^ Lee, Richard (2003). The Dobe Ju/'hoansi. Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology (3rd ed.). Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN 0-03-032284-7. 

External links[edit]