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Africa In Flames (1930)

Abd el Nebi , Mayor C. Court Treatt  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Abd el Nebi
  • Directors: Mayor C. Court Treatt
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Alpha New Cinema
  • DVD Release Date: March 30, 2010
  • Run Time: 53 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0037FFBNG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,876 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

In the darkest region in Africa, the struggle for survival between man and beast has raged since the dawn of time. Jungle infant Boru is orphaned after his mother - cast into the wilderness - is devoured by a ravenous lion. Adopted by nomadic chieftain Shaikh Asgar, Boru and Asgar's son Nikitu grow up to be skilled hunters. When severe drought threatens the future of the tribe, Boru and Nikitu search the countryside for a new fertile home for their people. But before the tribe can relocate, a freak lightning strike turns the tribe's home into a raging inferno.

Africa in Flames, originally released in 1930 as Stampede, was produced on location in the Sudan by the explorer team of Major C. Court Treatt and his wife, Stella, with the assistance of her brother, cinematographer Errol Hinds. Treatt and Hinds were no strangers to wild African travelogue, having produced a successful silent film called Cape to Cairo in the mid-1920s. The fictional story that embellished this subsequent documentary was written by Stella Treatt and was performed by actual villagers from the small Habbania Arab town of Buram, 500 miles southwest of Khartoum.


Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars historical artifact September 2, 2010
By PJR
I am glad that this film exists as an historical artifact of early efforts to satisfy audiences' interest in "exotic" peoples and places. And maybe some of the images are even realistic for the times. It is a basically a black and white "silent-style" film with narration instead of subtitles -- not surprising for the 1930 (1948re-release) date. It claims to be ethnography, explained by the voice of an authority, but it does not go deep at all by more recent standards. It is more like motion-film-snapshots of their lives.

Frankly, however, few people will want to watch this. I am going to imagine perhaps those with an interest in the history of film in the broad sense, or in the history of films about Africa, an interest in "ethnographic" film depictions (say e.g. along with Nanook of the North) and representations of "primitive" people in cinema (these people are apparently Islam-icized herdsmen, I would guess from their robes and names, and have metal spears etc.). Then too perhaps stoners who won't be worrying about the ethnographic or historical accuracy and could just see it as something novel and escapist or meditate on the rough life these people lead. Why not?

Africa has been photographed to death, and so the wildlife shots cannot stand up to the considerable competition. There is nothing outstandingly artistic about the production -- I mean this is not exactly German expressionism! And the dramatic tension did not grab me, and I doubt would grab most people. I don't want to nit-pick about such things as a couple of young orangutans somehow finding their way to Africa and getting in front of the cameras. Film companies quite commonly filled in with stock shots and it can actually be fun to catch these bloopers. So I will give them a break on this.
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Even viewed through the lens of understanding how Africans were portrayed in the late 1920's, this "documentary" still has some weaknesses. However, if you factor in how sub-Saharan Africans were depicted in other venues, then this one stands up reasonably well. They are depicted as having intelligence and culture, not as mindless and simple savages.
The video was filmed in the small Habbania town of Buram in Southern Sudan, stars the actual people of the village and was first released in 1930. It depicts them in their daily lives, the dangers from predators as well as some of their ceremonies. The title of the video is taken from the main event, a prairie fire that forces the villagers to flee across a river.
While the video is narrated, it is not of the high quality that was seen in later "talkies" If you are experienced in the history of film then you could come close to dating it by realizing that it was made in the transition from silent films to the days when the art of including dialog had been perfected.
One amusing aspect is that some of the women are bare-chested, which is a reminder of the old standard that bare breasts were allowed to appear uncensored as long as they were covered by black skin.
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