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The Roots of Heaven (1958)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 15 October 1958 (USA)
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:
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Minna (as Juliette Greco)
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...
...
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Orsini
...
...
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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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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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

Orson Welles did his part in two days at a Paris studio. His rate was normally $15,000 but he did it gratis in order to repay Darryl F. Zanuck for helping Welles find the funds to complete Othello (1951). See more »

Quotes

Peer Qvist: They'll have to shoot me first. It would be rather amusing to be killed in battle at my age.
Abe Fields: Hilarious... How old are you anyway?
Peer Qvist: Very old. I'd be happy to die in Africa.
Abe Fields: Why?
Peer Qvist: Because this is where mankind began.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Episode dated 5 October 1958 (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Interesting Movie That Was At Least 30 Years Ahead Of It's Time
1 May 2014 | by (Tappan, New York) – See all my reviews

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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