In Fort Lamy, French Equitorial Africa, idealist Morel launches a one-man campaign to preserve the African elephant from extinction, which he sees as the last remaining "roots of Heaven." ... See full summary »
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In Fort Lamy, French Equitorial Africa, idealist Morel launches a one-man campaign to preserve the African elephant from extinction, which he sees as the last remaining "roots of Heaven." At first, he finds only support from Minna, hostess of the town's only night club, who is in love with him, and a derelict ex-British Army Major, Forsythe. His crusade gains momentum and he is soon surrounded by an odd assortment of characters: Cy Sedgewick, an American TV commentator who becomes impressed and rallies world-wide support; a U.S. photographer, Abe Fields, who is sent to do a picture story on Morel and stays on to follow his ideals; Saint Denis, a government aide ordered to stop Morel; Orsini, a professional ivory hunter whose vested interests aren't the same as Morel's; and Waitari, leader of a Pan-African movement who follows Morel only for the personal good it will do his own campaign. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
[Presents his petition for protecting the elephants]
Would you sign it, sir? It would be a very great help.
My dear fellow, our first duty is towards mankind. Believe me, we have our hands full as it is now, trying to forestall the worst drought, the biggest water shortage for years. Unless we take timely steps, we're going to have people dying like flies! If you could read some of the reports coming in...
Yes, I know, sir, I do see. But can't we offer our help and protection to other animals ...
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Interesting Movie That Was At Least 30 Years Ahead Of It's Time
This movie, about a lone man's quest to save the African elephants from extinction at the hands of big game and ivory hunters, undoubtedly suffered when it was initially released due largely to the fact that it was at least 30 years ahead of it's time. In the 1950s nobody gave a thought to things things like ecology, conservation and endangered species; let alone considered them to be causes worth fighting for. The fact is that, while it would be perfectly natural for modern-day audiences to recognize Morel as a heroic character, in the 1950s he would have been regarded as merely eccentric. That simply goes to show that, while it takes a long time to change peoples' minds, they do change nonetheless.
I understand that Trevor Howard was actually given the role of the central character, Morel, after William Holden dropped out. Frankly, Howard was probably the better choice to play the part in the first place, since he does a good job of keeping the attention of the story grounded where it should be. The film itself is somewhat uneven and episodic, with some interesting character actors making periodic appearances revolving around Morel. Orson Welles, in particular, makes a conspicuous appearance as a larger-than-life American television broadcaster who was probably modeled on Lowell Thomas.
All in all, "The Roots of Heaven" represents a good effort at tackling a subject that probably didn't attract it's initial audience anywhere near as much as it would undoubtedly attract audiences today. Given the change in the public's appreciation of environmentalism, it definitely rates a fresh look by young, contemporary audiences.
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