Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
France/South Africa/United Kingdom, 2005. Vertigo, Skyline Films, France 2 Cinéma, France 3 Cinéma, Boréales, , The Imaginarium, ZenHQ Films, ZenHQ. Screenplay by William Boyd, Michel Fessler, Fred Fougea, Regis Wargnier. Cinematography by Laurent Dailland. Produced by Farid Lahouassa. Music by Patrick Doyle. Production Design by Maria Djurkovic. Costume Design by Pierre-Yves Gayraud. Film Editing by Yann Malcor.
A team of anthropologists venture to Africa with a wealthy exhibitor of exotic animals in order to capture members of a Pygmy tribe and bring them back to England. The scientists, led by Joseph Fiennes, have come up with a theory that the Pygmies are the key to the missing link between primitive homo sapiens and modern-day humans, while the exhibitor (Kristin Scott Thomas) is looking to make a few dollars. The two human subjects are studied, tested and abused in the exploration of their nature, showing signs of intelligence and emotion that prove them to be on par with contemporary humanity and changing Fiennes’ very idea of his research. His colleagues, who have spent so much time and money on their work, react negatively and resist the possibility that they were wrong, leading to a tug-of-war over their “specimens” that puts all members of the team in grave danger. This French-produced epic drama by Regis Wargnier (Indochine) is a solid exploration of the magnificence of human curiosity and the limits of human tolerance. These men (and one woman) want so much to improve our understanding of the world we live in but cannot see past their own prejudices or material needs in order to do so. It is thought-provoking, handsomely produced and very entertaining, benefiting from excellent work by all the actors and sturdy direction.
Berlin Film Festival: In Competition