This ethnographic film has become a classic, and rightfully so. It captures the feel of the Dugum Dani culture in the western half of the New Guinea highlands more than 40 years ago. Perhaps in another 40 years from now, they will be watching TV and listening to their DVD players, but "Dead Birds" will remain, both the good and the bad, a document to the uniqueness of their culture which lasted relatively unchanged for thousands of years until the 21st century. It also shows us both the security of cultural identity and the dark side of human nature in its depiction of ritual warfare. From lopping off two fingers on small girls with the death of a relative, to jumping out of the way from barbed-tipped arrows, to fear of attack at night by ghosts, life among the Dugum Dani is not easy. But there is a strong sense of security in living in a close-knit community with a common enemy.
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