I saw this film last night and all I have to say is – Go See it. Find it. Rent it. Steal it. Download it…but go see it.
This from the NY Times: “Hubert Sauper’s ”Darwin’s Nightmare” stands out. An unflinching, rigorous examination of the ecological and human effects of globalization on the African nation of Tanzania, Mr. Sauper’s film is not always easy to watch.”
This from Slant Magazine: “After being introduced into Lake Victoria during the 1960s, the Nile perch would go on to devastate the natural ecosystem of the world’s second largest lake, a place often cited as the origin of all human life. With Darwin’s Nightmare, director Huper Sauper traces the effects this scientific experiment has had on the ecology and people of Tanzania, namely those in the Mwanza region of the country.”
This from The Austin Chronicle: “Conversely, a mammoth and monstrously profitable industry has grown up on the shores of the lake, fueled by the World Bank, rampant Western globalization, and the cheap labor provided by the lakeside populace, who subsist on the perch’s gutted, maggoty carcasses and live in a hellish state of self-perpetuating squalor so bleak as to demand another circle in Dante’s hellscape. Darwin’s Nightmare explores the myriad interstitial connections, the causes and the effects, and the end result of globalism on the people it was presumed to help. The prognosis is beyond ghastly, moving via Sauper’s exhausting interviews with the local populace, workers, factory management, prostitutes, the Western industrialists, and, most tellingly, the pilots of the massive Russian-made cargo planes that fly out tonnage after tonnage of Nile perch fillets every single day. Which prompts the question: What do they fly in? Sauper returns, over and over, to this simple query, unearthing varying responses, until, late in the film, the truth is mumbled by an obviously drunken and shamefaced Russian pilot: The planes bring in weapons and other ordnance for Africa’s countless war zones. In short, they ferry in death to the birthplace of human life before returning to the West with the lifeblood of not only Lake Victoria but, in many ways, the continent itself. Darwin’s Nightmare is a muckraking masterpiece…”
This morning I went shopping and spoke to the fishmonger outside the store. I told him I wasn’t buying any more Nile perch. He’d seen the film too (it was on TV last night) and said he had to agree with me. Trading fish for arms while millions of Africans die of AIDS or starve is a horrible catastrophe. Eating fish that is ‘a result of a scientific experiment’ that no one can study because it’s protected by armed guards who shoot to kill is scary enough. Anyway…see the film. It’s scarier than any horror film I’ve ever seen, more surreal than any science fiction movie, and yet it’s real life.
And don’t buy Nile perch anymore.