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The Roots of Heaven (1958)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 560 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 7 critic

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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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Forsythe
Juliette Gréco ...
Minna (as Juliette Greco)
...
Morel
...
Abe Fields
...
Cy Sedgewick
...
Saint Denis
...
Orsini
Grégoire Aslan ...
Habib
André Luguet ...
Governor
Friedrich von Ledebur ...
Peer Qvist (as Friedrich Ledebur)
Edric Connor ...
Waitari
Olivier Hussenot ...
Baron
Pierre Dudan ...
Major Schölscher
Marc Doelnitz ...
De Vries
Francis De Wolff ...
Father Farque (as Francis de Wolff)
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Storyline

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 <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 October 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Las raíces del cielo  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Terrible heat and sickness took their toll on the cast and crew. The 130 people had 920 sick calls during the filming. See more »

Quotes

Morel: Do you know that tens of thousands of elephants are killed every year? Thirty thousand last year, to be exact. Thirty thousand. If they go on like that, there won't be any left. Anyone who's seen the great herds on the march across the last free spaces of the earth knows they're something the world can't afford to lose! But no... We have to capture, kill, destroy. All that's beautiful has got to go. All that's free! Soon we'll be alone on this earth with nothing to destroy but ourselves!
See more »

Connections

Featured in From the Journals of Jean Seberg (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Minna's Theme
(uncredited)
Music by Henri Patterson
Arranged by Malcolm Arnold
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User Reviews

 
A superb film based on my all-time favorite novel.
17 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This was an excellent film based on my all-time favorite novel of the same title. Both novel and film were ahead of their time in their concern for the fate of the African elephant specifically and the sustainability of the earth generally. The cast was superb; Trevor Howard and Juliette Greco were perfect. (But then, so was everyone else involved.) An important theme in both novel and film was the tendency for others to analyze Morel's motives through their own eyes. Thus some thought him politically ambitious, some supposed that he detested humankind, and others found other motives. I believe his actual motives were purer, simpler, more altruistic, and altogether as he stated them. I would like to have used this film in my university classes, but like an earlier reviewer I regret that it was not possible to find it. That's a great shame.

Given the apparent unavailability of the film, I highly recommend the book - if you can find a copy! Occasionally I have challenged bright students to tell me why the character Father Tassin is so interested in learning everything he can about Morel. To help them, I have lent them not only the novel but a short book about the real-life "Tassin." One or two succeeded in making the connection and thus understanding the work at its most profound level. And it truly is profound, once you understand that connection.

Incidentally, author (and screenplay writer) Romain Gary lived an adventurous, unique life which made him just about as interesting as Morel. War hero, winner of France's highest military and literary honors, literary prankster, tragic political victim, and much more.


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