22 user 8 critic

The Roots of Heaven (1958)

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 »



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Romance | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

1932. The tyrannical and despotic government of President Machado has headed Cuba for seven years. The latest measure of that tyranny is the outlawing of public gatherings of more than four... See full summary »

Director: John Huston
Stars: Jennifer Jones, John Garfield, Pedro Armendáriz
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3/10 X  

Errol Flynn , playing himself as a war correspondent, helps Fidel Castro overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista . The film was shot, with Castro's cooperation, while he was still fighting Batista.

Director: Barry Mahon
Stars: Errol Flynn, Beverly Aadland, John McKay
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A former intelligence officer is tasked by the heir to the Gleneyre estate to investigate the unusual deaths of a disparate group of eleven men on a list.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis
Certificate: M Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

During the Cold War a Naval Intelligence officer endowed with a powerful photographic memory is transferred to the CIA to participate in a covert operation in Moscow.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Bibi Andersson, Richard Boone, Nigel Green
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A member of British Intelligence assumes a fictitious criminal identity and allows himself to be caught, imprisoned, and freed in order to infiltrate a spy organization and expose a traitor.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Paul Newman, Dominique Sanda, James Mason
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Townsend Harris is sent by President Pierce to Japan to serve as the first U.S. Consul-General to that country. Harris discovers enormous hostility to foreigners, as well as the love of a ... See full summary »

Director: John Huston
Stars: John Wayne, Eiko Ando, Sam Jaffe
Moulin Rouge (1952)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Fictional account of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Director: John Huston
Stars: José Ferrer, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Colette Marchand
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The daughter of iconic actor John Barrymore becomes reunited with her father after a ten year estrangement and engages in his self-destructive lifestyle.

Director: Art Napoleon
Stars: Dorothy Malone, Errol Flynn, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The last 24 hours in the life of Geoffrey Firmin, a lonely, depressed English consul who retreats to alcohol for solace.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Albert Finney, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Andrews
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A defrocked Episcopal clergyman leads a bus-load of middle-aged Baptist women on a tour of the Mexican coast and comes to terms with the failure haunting his life.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr
Rawhide (1951)
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A stagecoach stop employee and a stranded woman traveler find themselves at the mercy of four desperate outlaws intent on robbing the next day's gold shipment.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Tyrone Power, Susan Hayward, Hugh Marlowe
Certificate: M Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

In a story set during the Hundred Years War, a student who has abandoned his studies in Paris, pairs with a young noblewoman with whom he has fallen in love.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Anjelica Huston, Assi Dayan, Anthony Higgins


Cast overview, first billed only:
Minna (as Juliette Greco)
Abe Fields
Cy Sedgewick
Saint Denis
Peer Qvist (as Friedrich Ledebur)
Edric Connor ...
Olivier Hussenot ...
Pierre Dudan ...
Major Schölscher
Marc Doelnitz ...
De Vries
Francis De Wolff ...
Father Farque (as Francis de Wolff)


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


Adventure | Drama


See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 October 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Las raíces del cielo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$4,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Upon returning to Paris to film interiors, Darryl F. Zanuck and Errol Flynn were hospitalized. See more »


Abe Fields: This is a great story, the scoop of the century, and I got plenty of film left!
See more »


Referenced in Biography: Darryl F. Zanuck: 20th Century Filmmaker (1995) See more »


Minna's Theme
Music by Henri Patterson
Arranged by Malcolm Arnold
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Adventure drama focused on defending the rights of the elephants directed by John Huston in his usual style
14 June 2016 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

Good film that had several inconvenient and misfortunes , as the cast and crew suffered temperatures would routinely reach 134 degrees in the day and 95 degrees at night , as the 130 people had 920 sick calls during the shooting . This is an exciting story about Morel's adventures who accompanied by a motley group carry out a real denounce against the massacre of the elephants . Morel lives in Africa and can not stand quiet on this slaughter and he , then , undertakes a dangerous travel on protection of elephants . Morel (Trevor Howard , though James Mason was considered for the role , also William Holden was originally cast with top billing ; however, he later pulled out and was replaced) starts to fight to prohibit this hunt . As he begins , nobody supports him , but thanks to an American Radio newsreader called Sedgwick (Orson Welles , his foe was normally $15,000 but he did it gratis in order to repay Darryl F. Zanuck for helping Welles find the funds to complete Otelo) he becomes a famous person . Some people come to help him , such as : the drunk Forsythe (Errol Flynn , who was then given top billing, even though Howard had the lead role, this was Errol Flynn's last major film before his death the following year others try to use him) , the magazine photographer Abe Fields (Eddie Albert , who developed an almost fatal case of sunstroke) and his lover Minna (Juliette Gréco) , among others .

This thought-provoking as well as interesting adventure movie contains a real condemnation of violence and intolerance in which an agreeable character attempts to awake the world's consciousness , being interspersed with a lot of political issues in those times of the French/British colonialism in Africa . It's a story of losers , brave and valiant roles , mixed with revolutionary interests . Nice acting by Trevor Howard as a man committed to nature and especially against indiscriminate ivory trade , determined at whatever cost to avoid the killing of elephants taking place in a French colony . In addition , the strange beauty Juliette Greco , French singer and actress , ¨Protegee¨ of Darryl F. Zanuck, who put her in a number of films in the late 50s-early 60s . Remaining cast is generally quite good , giving fantastic jobs , plenty of great actors who suffered from the heat , malaria and other tropical diseases , as temperatures during filming reached over 130 degrees in the daytime and only got down to 95 at night . As terrible heat and sickness took their toll on the cast and crew . There stand out the followings : Eddie Albert , Paul Lukas , Herbert Lom , Grégoire Aslan , Jacques Marin , and , of course , Orson Welles included . However , Errol Flynn's alcoholism had become a round-the-clock problem, and he was frequently at odds with John Huston . In his autobiography titled ¨My Wicked, Wicked Ways", Errol Flynn wrote that he enjoyed making this film more than any other.

Colorful photography in CinemaScope by Oswald Morris is spectacular and insurmountable , it was mostly made on location in Africa over five months , in the Belgian Congo and Tchad in the Northern Cameroons, where the elephants were located . As the cast and crew were in French Equatorial Africa for 6 months making the movie , and on some days it would be a four hour drive to the location and back , as they vowed never to return . It displays an emotive and sensitive musical score by the classic British composer Malcolm Arnold . The motion picture was well directed by John Huston , though he cited this film as an example of how some of the worst shoots can result in the worst films . Its tense filmmaking makes this crackerjack entertainment . The picture was made in a good time in the late 50s , 60s and 70s when Huston reappeared as a director of quality with The misfits (1961) , Freud (1962) , The List of Adrian Messenger (1963) , Fat City, (1972) , The man who would be king (1975) and Wise blood (1979). He ended his career on a high note with Under volcano (1984), Honor of Prizzi (1985) and Dublineses (1987) . Rating : 6.5/10 , this is an acceptable John Huston film , despite failing at box office , a model of his kind , definitely a must see if you are aficionado to adventure films

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: