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The Roots of Heaven (1958)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Drama | 15 October 1958 (USA)
In French Equatorial 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 Equatorial 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:

There is violence in this story - but also the seeds of faith...There is hate in this story - but also the seeds of love...There is cowardice in this story - but also the seeds of courage...BUT ABOVE ALL THERE IS GREATNESS See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Juliette Greco contracted a rare blood disease. 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

Referenced in What's My Line?: Darryl F. Zanuck (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
Interesting Movie That Was At Least 30 Years Ahead Of It's Time
1 May 2014 | by robertguttmanSee 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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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)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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