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    SUBJECTS — World/Africa; The Environment;
    Age: 10+; MPAA Rating -- PG; Comedy, 1990; 98 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:     Ivory poachers interrupt the peaceful existence of a Bushman family living deep in the Kalahari desert. Two of the Bushman children explore the poachers' truck and are accidentally carried away. Xixo, their father, follows the tire tracks left by the truck. On his way he meets Ann Taylor, a New York attorney, and Dr. Marshall, a local naturalist, who are lost in the bush. Xixo also encounters a Cuban soldier and an African soldier each of whom is trying to capture the other. The movie relates their adventures as Xixo tracks his children and everyone else tries to get home.

    Benefits of the Movie:     This hilarious film allows us to see ourselves from the Bushman point of view: overweight incompetents who can't read the signs of nature or take care of themselves in the desert. We are introduced to the Bushman culture, the destruction of the elephant herds for ivory, and Great Power adventurism in Africa. The film contains beautiful photography of the African landscape, its skies, and its animals. Xixo is a role model for a good father and a competent, compassionate man. Dr. Marshall, the naturalist, is also a good man.

    Possible Problems:    MODERATE: The most disturbing thing about this film is its cavalier attitude toward the use of guns. A number of people are shot without much gore, but the overall effect is without any respect for guns as machines which do real damage to people.

    There are also a number of potential problems which are minor. In several scenes Ms. Taylor's dress is pulled up when it gets caught on a tree or part of an airplane, and you can see her underwear. On two occasions, scared by animals, Taylor jumps frontwards onto Dr. Marshall's shoulders. These incidents are innocent. There are several occasions in which a word of profanity is used in an extreme situation.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the worksheets to fit the needs of each class. Movies as Literature Homework Project.

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:   Why did Xixo call non-bushmen the "heavy people" and look down on them as being illiterate?

    Parenting Points:     Ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question. Talk a little about how hard it would be to live in the area occupied by your hometown without the conveniences of civilization. Show your child or class, on a globe or a map, the Kalahari, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Suggested Response: The Bushmen existence was so difficult and so close to starvation that everyone was lean. As to literacy, the signs that the Bushmen needed to read were the signs of nature in the desert. The heavy people couldn't read these signs.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  None.

      Featured Actors:  N!xau, Eiros, Nadies, Lena Farugia and Hans Strydom.

      Director:  James Uys.

    Helpful Background:

    See Learning Guide to The Gods Must Be Crazy for information about the Kalahari and Bushmen.

    Millions of African elephants have been killed for the ivory in their tusks. To save elephants from extinction, the ivory trade has been outlawed worldwide. The ivory poachers in the movie were violating these laws. The ban on the ivory trade has been very successful and elephant populations have increased in most areas. Recently, limited exemptions have been granted permitting countries in which the elephant population has increased to start exporting ivory again.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States sold or gave arms to competing armies in various parts of Africa. Cuba, at the time a Soviet client state, sent tens of thousands of soldiers to fight in wars in Africa on the side of the Russians.

    In Europe and Africa lawyers are referred to as doctors.

For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.


    Discussion Questions:

    1.  See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.

    2.  What was a Cuban soldier doing in Africa?

    3.  Find Cuba, New York, Botswana, Mozambique and the Kalahari on a map or a globe. Show them to your child or to the class.

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

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    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


    1.  If you had to pick a male role model in this film, who would he be?

Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


    (Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)

    1.  Who was the person shown in this film that you respect most?

Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

    Bridges to Reading: None.

MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: Born Free and The Gods Must Be Crazy.

    Links to the Internet: None.



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