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The Roots of Heaven (1958)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 15 October 1958 (USA)
In French Equitorial Africa, an idealist ecologist starts a campaign of public awareness to help save the African elephants from extinction.

Director:

John Huston

Writers:

Romain Gary (novel), Romain Gary (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Errol Flynn ... Forsythe
Juliette Gréco ... Minna (as Juliette Greco)
Trevor Howard ... Morel
Eddie Albert ... Abe Fields
Orson Welles ... Cy Sedgewick
Paul Lukas ... Saint Denis
Herbert Lom ... Orsini
Grégoire Aslan ... Habib
André Luguet ... Governor
Friedrich von Ledebur ... Peer Qvist (as Friedrich Ledebur)
Edric Connor Edric Connor ... Waitari
Olivier Hussenot Olivier Hussenot ... Baron
Pierre Dudan Pierre Dudan ... Major Schölscher
Marc Doelnitz Marc Doelnitz ... De Vries
Francis De Wolff 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

Taglines:

Of human laughter, wonder and tenderness !

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 October 1958 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Las raíces del cielo See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris, France See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$3,000,000, 31 December 1958
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Errol Flynn's alcoholism had become a round-the-clock problem, and he was frequently at odds with John Huston. At one point, he provoked Huston into a fight; while Flynn was a former amateur boxer, the years of fast living had taken a heavy toll on him, and Huston, himself a former professional boxer, flattened Flynn with a single punch. See more »

Quotes

Habib: [after Minna spits in his face] I don't mind - that's what the human face is made for, anyway.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Last of Robin Hood (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
A superb film based on my all-time favorite novel.
17 July 2006 | by rtanner-6See 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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