Self and Other

film 4 of 5

Cannibal Tours

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 18, 2015

Dennis O’Rourke’s Papua New Guinea documentary is calm, controlled, courteous, doubly devastating. Some commentary on the film differs, but I think that he likes some of these tourists, and many, even most of them deserve to be liked. And just because you’re a native doesn’t mean you can’t be self-serving or plain unpleasant.

Having established this, what’s left is utter devastation, and an utter quandary. Cannibalism was no good, but Contact was still a disaster. “That’s close enough,” says the nice European woman who wanted a souvenir photograph, but not so much as to get any on her. The “second price” sequence, especially with the way these scroungers talk so smugly over the top of the people their bilking, encapsulates the whole colonial abomination with incredible, terrible efficiency.