I had forgotten about this film until someone recently mentioned it to me. When I heard the title I knew I had to review it because to this day it is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. It is a light-hearted film about who has the better life the “uncivilized” bushman of the Kalahari Desert or the people living in a “civilized” world with all the modern problems and stresses of everyday life. Apparently the film generated much controversy and the government of Trinidad and Tobago even went so far as to ban it. You’ve got to be kidding me—banning the Gods Must Be Crazy! What film are they watching?
It is a simple film with three plot lines that starts with a Coke bottle falling out of the sky (tossed from a passing airplane) and is found by a tribe of Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert. The bottle, being unique and beautiful, leads to the new feelings of jealousy and conflicts within the tribe. So the leader of the tribe, Xi, decides to travel to “the end of the Earth” to return this gift to the Gods who, Xi believes dropped it. As he travels to the end of the Earth, he encounters civilization, and civilization is shown to be ugly, cruel and insane compared to the simple, Eden like life of Xi’s blessed, relaxed people. The second plotline has Mr. Stayn, a scientist working in the game reserve, meeting Miss Thompson, a school teacher, to whom he‘s attracted, but Stayn cannot do anything right around women. The third has Sam Boga lead an unsuccessful military junta and becomes a fugitive running from the law in neighboring country. Boga takes Miss Thompson and her class hostage during his flight. Mr. Stayn and Xi, who temporarily works as a guide, help free the hostages, capture Boga and his men, and Stayn finally is able to relate his feelings to Miss Thompson.
The film has many slapstick moments that actually work in the picture. One scene has Sam Boga’s gang burst into the President’s cabinet room only to have the doors slam back on them as they try to shoot the President and his subordinates. Two of Boga’s men (that are constantly playing cards) are trying to shoot down a helicopter that is chasing them with a bazooka only to first shoot a bunch of bananas and have the shells keep falling out of the weapon before finally blowing up their pursuers. The two go back to playing cards and try to every chance they get. It may sound corny but it actually works. Xi eventually saves the day by tranquilizing Boga and his men and eventually finds himself at the top of a cliff with a solid layer of low-lying clouds obscuring the landscape below. This convinces Xi that he has reached the edge of the world, and he throws the bottle off the cliff; this scene was filmed in South Africa (now Mpumalanga)), at the edge of the escarpment between the Highveld and of South Africa. Xi then returns to his tribe and a warm welcome from his family.
Frankly people who call the film racist or anything along those lines just needs to calm down. The fact of the matter is that the film grossed $100,000,000 worldwide shattering box office records in many countries. The film also spawned two authorized sequels and three unauthorized films made in Hong Kong. It is a great lighthearted film that equally funny for adults and children alike. I suggest you watch this grainy classic and take it for what it is—a movie.
The Start of all the trouble is a simple Coke bottle.