Gods Must Be Crazy, The (1981): Slapstick Comedy from South Africa

The Gods Must be Crazy, a slapstick comedy from South Africa done in a silent film mode, was a sleeper back in 1981, grossing close to $30 million in the U.S. alone.

The film is produced, written, and directed by Jamie Uhys, who also plays a small part as the Reverend.

The tales begins as a documentary a la National Geographic, about a tribe named Kalahari Bushmen, which lives a peaceful, self-contained, non-violent life

Things change dramatically, when a small airplane drops a bottle of Coca Cola, and the tribe members assume that it’s a gift from the gods.

Soon, the bottle becomes an invaluable tool, serving all kinds of functions, such as playing music and making patterns.  The bottle’s multiple uses leads to competition, greed, fights, and violence.

Due to the bottle’s negative consequences, the tribe members decide to get rid of it and thus appoint their leader Xi (played by a Bushman named Nixau) to execute this task by dumping it in what they perceive is the end of the world.

Relying more on sight gags and physical acts and less on dialogue (written by director Uys), “The Gods Must Be Crazy” is a funny comedy, which takes a single but original idea and plays with its various meanings and permutations.

Released by Fox Classics

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