A charming, oddball documentary that charts the progress of an invasive species of Central American toad across Northern Australia and the experiences of the townspeople it encounters along the way.
Introduced to Queensland in the 1930s in an attempt to alleviate the blight of the cane beetle which was ravaging the crops of the regions' sugar cane farmers; the cane toad, in a manner all too painfully predictable, manifestly failed to live up to its billing as miracle cure for the farmers' ills, but rapidly became a fast spreading pest in its own right.
Mark Lewis's film traces the history behind the original introduction, and then follows the invading force, mile by mile, and year by year, in its unstoppable march across the continent, whilst intercutting the stories of a cross-section of experts, officials, and shall we say... "locals" caught up in its path.
If all this sounds like a job for the David Attenborough, that's understandable, but you'd be missing the point. There is real environmental science to be learned here, to be sure, but Cane Toads: The Conquest treads this ground lightly, offering an easily digestible sprinkling of facts that could comfortably be crammed into a fifteen minute PowerPoint session. What it delivers in spades is an understated, blackly comic mix of horror parody and absurdist social docu-drama as we meet the wonderful parade of folks who paint them, stuff them, pet them, curse them with Old Testament wrath and launch them from home made rockets!
Sometimes fascinating, and frequently funny, this is less a film of amphibious analysis and more an affectionate portrait of Australians in all their eccentric glory.
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