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Dead Birds (1963)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 1 October 1963 (USA)
DEAD BIRDS is a film about the Dani, a people dwelling in the Grand Valley of the Baliem high in the mountains of West Irian. When I shot the film in 1961, the Dani had an almost classic ... See full summary »

Director:

Robert Gardner
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Cast

Credited cast:
Robert Gardner Robert Gardner ... Narrator
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Storyline

DEAD BIRDS is a film about the Dani, a people dwelling in the Grand Valley of the Baliem high in the mountains of West Irian. When I shot the film in 1961, the Dani had an almost classic Neolithic culture. They were exceptional in the way they focussed their energies and based their values on an elaborate system of intertribal warfare and revenge. Neighboring groups of Dani clans, separated by uncultivated strips of no man's land, engaged in frequent formal battles. When a warrior was killed in battle or died from a wound and even when a woman or a child lost their life in an enemy raid, the victors celebrated and the victims mourned. Because each death had to be avenged, the balance was continually being adjusted with the spirits of the aggrieved lifted and the ghosts of slain comrades satisfied as soon as a compensating enemy life was taken. There was no thought in the Dani world of wars ever ending, unless it rained or became dark. Without war there would be no way to satisfy the ...

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Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 October 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Aves muertas See more »

Filming Locations:

New Guinea

Company Credits

Production Co:

Peabody Museum See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)
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User Reviews

 
Brilliant ethnography recently released on DVD
12 September 2004 | by enriquemaderaSee all my reviews

Dead Birds is an informative and affecting ethnographic film that records the culture of the Dani people of New Guinea. The most striking characteristic of this group is a highly ritualized warfare. Daily life is depicted with great empathy. The scenes of the children emulating their elder's ways are particularly memorable. This film was a favorite of my elementary school class in the late 60's, and I searched for a copy for years. It has recently been released on DVD (with extra footage) by Documentary Education Resources in Massachusetts. This film should be seen by anyone who enjoyed 'Nanook of the North'. The same debates about "real" vs. "staged" events exist about both films. Both have been selected to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Both depict cultures that have been altered permanently by contact with the outside world (during and after the filming).


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