Colonials I

film 1 of 6

Elephant Boy

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 3, 2015

Sort of interesting, not very good at all, Sabu’s hard to take, especially in that endless intro, clear and uncomfortable grafting of stilted story material (Korda?) onto some neat though meandering looking doc footage (Flaherty, of course), not exactly reactionary, as the Indians have some dimension, and some may actually be Indians, but it’s hardly progressive, and doesn’t seem to be at all aware of the environmental, racial and political subjugations all over; it’d be interesting to trace R.F.’s interest in Kipling, since he seems sometimes to transcend him (“White Man’s Burden” vs. “Nanook”) while at other times he falls in completely (here–not that I know anything about Kipling); sort of sad that a Flaherty film would resort to Living Desert-y reverse motion tricks to come up with something as hokey as the elephant dance, this descends from Chang, not only in the round-up-the-elephants climax, but in the culture and nature for show aesthetic, which again is so different from what Flaherty usually stands for