THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY I & II
Review by Michael Jacobson
N!xau, Marius Weyers, Sandra Prinsloo, Lena Farugia, Hans Strydom
Director: Jamie Uys
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 (I), 1.85:1 (II)
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 109 Minutes (I), 98 Minutes (II)
Release Date: February 3, 2004
yi yi yi yi…”
may be a lesson to learn here that if you make a good enough film, people are
going to notice. South African
filmmaker Jamie Uys crafted a low budget comedy with no stars, filmed on
location in and around the Kalahari Desert, focusing on a real African bushman
and his strange adventure with a Coke bottle.
That film was The Gods Must Be Crazy, a modest little gem that
probably at first seemed to have little chance to make it outside its native
country. Four years later, it had
grown into a worldwide hit mostly from word of mouth, and it has remained a kind
of cult favorite ever since.
know I’ve loved the picture ever since seeing it for the first time.
Uys’ movie is a modern comic masterpiece, blending all the best of
slapstick, satire and situation into a non-stop laugh riot.
Everyone I know who’s seen the film has fallen under its original and
basically tells three stories that eventually entwine.
Beginning like a humorously toned take on a National Geographic special,
we are introduced to the bushmen: a
tribe of primitive people who live contentedly in a world where you or I would
perish in no time. They have no
concept of possession, laws, or society: their
lives are peaceful and happy.
a discarded Coke bottle from a passing plane lands in their midst, and they’ve
never seen anything like it. They
fashion creative uses for the so-called “gift from the gods”, but soon the
one unique object in their lives creates possessiveness, envy, and heartbreak.
Finally determining the thing to be evil, the bushman Xixo (N!xau) sets
off on a journey to the end of the world to get rid of it.
second story involves the arrival of a new schoolteacher (Prinsloo) and the
zoologist (Weyers) sent to welcome her to the desert. The problem? He’s
extremely nervous and awkward around women.
In a ramshackle jeep dubbed the Antichrist (with no brakes and no way to
restart it if it stalls), there’s plenty of mayhem afoot.
third story follows a terrorist and his attempts to flee the law.
How all three stories come together is a mirthful surprise I’ll leave
for you to discover.
is a throwback to the geniuses of silent comedy. He even utilizes primitive techniques, like slowing or
speeding the film mid-scene, or reversing and repeating…all gimmicks of old
that help to enhance physical comedy and elevate it to new heights.
Some of the great gags, apart from the poor scientist’s bumblings,
include the jeep ending up in a tree, the charging rhino that stamps out fires,
and some misadventures with a gate that has to be closed.
surprise hits end up with a sequel, and amusingly enough, this one was no
exception. Uys returned to the bush
with his faithful star N!xau for The Gods Must Be Crazy II in 1988, a
delightfully welcome sequel that proved that magic could be concocted once again
from simple formulas.
before, there are three intertwining stories, starting with Xixo searching for
his two children after they accidentally end up in back of a poacher’s truck.
The second involves again a man and a woman out of sorts in the desert; a
lawyer (Farugia) and another zoologist (Strydom), who doesn’t have the same
awkwardness as the one in the first film, but still ends up in situations over
his head with his lady companion. The
final strand features a pair of warring soldiers, who keep switching back and
forth on which one is the other’s prisoner!
sequel manages the same sweet, funny tone as the first, with just as many
laughs. The starring vehicle this
time is a tiny plane that has to be seen to be believed!
actually was one more sequel (of sorts), made in China and co-directed by Uys
with a Chinese director. Though
N!xau returned, the third installment fell flat and hard. It’s difficult to come by, and by all accounts, not worth
the effort to do so.
just think of the first two as the complete adventures of Xixo and his strange
“civilized” friends. These are
terrific comedies that warmed the hearts and tickled the funny bones of
moviegoers all over the world, and will no doubt continue to do so with this
double disc release.
films are well represented, showing the beauty of the African landscape in all
its glorious colors and tones. A
few print problems are noticeable from time to time…a scratch here, a splotch
there, but nothing that really detracts from the overall viewing.
A few bits of stock footage stand out for being more worn looking, but
overall, these films hold up well on DVD.
simple stereo tracks are serviceable; with post-dubbed dialogue, music and sound
effects, the mix is level and suitable; nothing demanding.
first film contains the featurette “Journey to Nyae Nyae”, which was a great
idea poorly executed. We go back to
the Kalahari and meet up with N!xau, but none of what he says is translated
either with narration or subtitles…what was the point? We also learn that many of the charming ideas put forth about
the bushmen in the films are false…kind of depressing. But we see a school of young kids watching the first film and
laughing like crazy, proving comedy is indeed the universal language.
There are also some photos from that school and bonus trailers.
second film features a tribute to the late Jamie Uys and some additional bonus