I tracked this film down on VHS (probably the last time i'll ever buy a video) more because I'm interested in old footage than for its contemporary art house credentials.
The use of tinting, slow motion and minimalist music is certainly controversial when applied to such old footgae but I think it works very well. This is particularly the case with the slow motion, often in the film you see a slow motion focus on someones face and this really captures the humanity of the subject in a way that old footage or photography rarely do. For example in one shot of an African tribes woman you quite clearly see her (despite the obvious lack of sound) showing the camera man how she brushes her teeth.
From an historical point of view I think this footage is very important, not because it shows important historical events but because much of it is rather shocking to us today and reminds us of how social attitudes have changed. There are quite a few scenes of animals being rather callously killed and even an apparent death of someone engaged in a mock tribal battle and this is very at odds with the kind of jolly seaside footage that we are used to seeing from this period.
Overall this film is fascinating from an historical point of view and hypnotic from an artistic one. If this were ever out on DVD (which I doubt) then I would love to see a neat transcription of the original footage before it was tinted etc if that were possible.
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