Monday, May 30, 2005

Darwin's Nightmare (2004)

"I dreamt that God created Adam and Eve! AAAH!"

Genre: Documentary (Austria, Belgium, France, Canada, Finland, Sweden)

Directed By: Hubert Sauper

Overview: The story of Tanzania's pecking order in the world, Darwin's Nightmare explores the Nile perch, the main export from Lake Victoria and the effect of Europe and globalization upon this African community.

Acting: The characters in this doc spoke poor English, which was fine because they subtitled it, and reinterpreted the words into proper sentences, but they often stuttered and stumbled. I think it would have been better (and would have shaved off a few minutes) if they had just spoken in their native tongues. It seemed often disjointed.
Rating: 6

Cinematography: The images were quite versatile. Huge, man-sized fish being happily carted away to the factories for processing juxtaposed with old widows putting maggot-covered perch carcasses out to cure for village food. Fat Russian drunk pilots gave intervews in bars versus hobbling one-legged starving children. Very powerful drama unfolded in the pictures they showed. The documentary look was a little grainy from time to time, but that's to be expected.
Rating: 8

Script: The dialogue was decent. It infuriated, it had Europeans patting themselves on the back for their humanitarianism, it had Russians calling black people lazy and not willing to work, guards spoke of killing in wartime and teaching us how the killing was done. The words were unscripted, but there seemed to be a bit of a stretch in trying to get people to confess that there were guns being shipped in, a little forced from time to time.
Rating: 7

Plot: The worst part would have to be the scene where children fight for handfuls of fish-soaked rice, running away with handfuls of it while their bigger brethren try to knock them down, not caring if they get the food or not, as the beat up children cried from hunger. That scene was a perfect culmination of the point that the director was trying to make: Tanzania needs help. The flow of the film from time to time had issues, and it could definitely have been shortened, but the overall message was loud and clear: A.I.D.S., poverty and capitalism seemed to have chosen this country as it's prime hunting ground.
Rating: 8

Mood: Plain bleak. They did very well conveying the message of hopelessness, of the poverty, of the plague that industrialized nations have been upon this corner of Africa. Yes they set the mood, but ultimately there were continuity issues here and there and overall the blight that they portrayed did nothing to redeem itself. When one watches a documentary of this nature, one expects to be told how to fix this potential hopeless situation. Here, I found that it was just pain and suffering for it's own sake. The mood was well set, but it went overboard.
Rating: 7

"Yes? Would you like a piece of fish? Or maybe an AK-47?"

Overall Rating: 72% (Good But Not Pleasant)

Aftertaste: The film left my foundation shaken, and the company I was with left awkwardly. One of my friends, the next day, said that it was still troubling her. When I think back on this movie, I won't think about how much I should get up and do something about it, I'll think about how much of a Hellhole this planet is and no matter what we do there will always be predators preying on the weak and the hope that exists is winked out in an instant. Not fun, not even enraging, just... Void. I'll never recommend this to anyone, it's just too painful.