Some better titles for this film would be:

Chang: A Comedy Of The Wilderness

The Jungle Ate My House!

Bimbo: The Monkey Who Gets No Respect

Two years before this film, directors Cooper and Schoedsack went to the Middle East and made a wonderful documentary called Grass. This time they seem to have been told to do a Nanook Of The North style documentary, but with more comedy and make it more family friendly. We go to Northern Siam where we meet Kru, a Lao tribesmen who is a bit of a pioneer. Instead of staying in the village where there is relative safety, he takes his family into the deeper jungle to conquer it. The jungle strikes back!

What follows is a series of events that feel very staged. Some of the shots they got seem impossible without a setup and trained animals. The family deals with tigers and leopards, but eventually loses the house to a couple of Changs (not a couple of angry Chinese guys, it’s the word for elephant). This sends him back to the village to bring in reinforcements. Except this isn’t just a couple of Changs…It’s the GREAT HERD!!!

I have no doubt that this kind of thing does happen to these particular people. What I doubt is that it happens so dramatically and in such quick succession with such careful attention to narrative.

I would be doing this film an injustice if I didn’t mention the intertitles written by Achmed Abdullah. The man is a comic genius. Here are some great examples that left me in stitches:

Said The Baby Bear To The Mama Bear

Said Bimbo The Monkey To The Men Subduing An Elephant

Said Bimbo The Monkey Being Chased By A Leopard

This film delivers a taste of Northern Siam in the late 1920’s, which makes it worth seeing. Just don’t expect hard hitting documentary realism. Expect to be laughing quite a bit. I recommend it.

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