Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Africa Speaks! (1930)

Landmark early sound documentary, though very much of its time, following explorer Paul Hoefler on an expedition into the Serengeti. Despite its obviously dated attitudes, there is actually quite a bit of interesting material here if one can get past the incessant and frequently condescending narration by Lowell Thomas.

Directed by Walter Futter and shot by Hoefler, the film contains some excellent photography, especially in the slow-motion scenes of the giraffes gracefully galloping across the plains, the swarms of locusts that leave the land barren, and the thrilling lion hunt, in which the natives track down and kill one of the beasts responsible for the death of a fellow tribesman. An historical curio, mainly of interest now for its pioneering use of location sound recording in the service of a documentary project, and as a record of the contemporary attitudes and assumptions about its subject.

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