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Dr. Leakey and the dawn of man. Film produced by the National Geographic Society in 1967. Edited by the Encyclopedia Britannica Education Corporation. Price Black and White $167.00; Colour $327.50. Film 083-0004

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Film Review
DR. LEAKEYAND
THE DAWN OF MAN. speaks of the work of prehistoric artists
Film produced by the National Geo- 28,000 years ago while the screen shows
graphic Society in 1967. Edited by the a painting of eland done by the BasutoEncyclopedia Britannica
Education land Bushmen about 1820 A.D. Again,
Corporation. Price: Black and White the partly articulated bone concentration
$167.00; Colour $327.50. Film 083- described as having been uncovered on
one of the Olduvai occupation floors looks
0004.
suspiciously like part of the Fort Ternan
This film was first shown, it is under- concentration. While the shots of the
stood, to general television audiences “Zinjanthropus” discovery are good, it
some two years ago although this is the would have been better to have shown the
first time the present reviewer has seen it. Homo habilis fossil separateIy from the
It is now being made available through site where it was found rather than to
Films Incorporated of Wilmette, Illinois. attempt to reconstruct the discovery with
Most of the footage appears to have a cast in a disturbed deposit. The statebeen taken in the mid- to early 1960’s ment by the commentator that Homo
and, in view of the number of important erectus is a dead end leading to extincfinds of early hominid fossils that have tion would certainly be debated by many
been made since then, it is unfortunate physical anthropologists. If the film is
that the film, or at least the commentary, intended for school children then it is
has not been brought up to date to in- even more important that factual details
clude the material from the lower part of should be correct.
BED I1 at Olduvai and at least to refer to
If the film fails to appeal to the student
more of the features on some of the living
and
the teacher it will be chiefly on acfloors.
The film is essentially concerned to count of the commentary which is mostly
show the significance of the finds from an overdramatisation in the “travelogue”
Olduvai Gorge and Dr. Leakey’s and his tradition. The story of the Olduvai diswife’s long and untiring work there. Al- coveries is sufficiently dramatic to be told
though in this it generally succeeds, it plainly and simply, unembarrassed by
speculation
and
“purple
suffers from the exclusion of reference whimsicaI
to and views of the work and finds at other patches.” In the few places where Leakey
localities-Rusinga,
Fort Ternan, the himself speaks the commentary one is
left with a refreshing feeling of relief and
Lake Rudolph Rift and elsewhere-which
reality
only to be overwhelmed again by
would provide a more balanced presentation and a deeper appreciation of the references to “the lingering spirits of
magnitude of the Leakeys’ lifetime con- early man” or the bathos of “so passes a
tribution to knowledge of early hominid fascinating creature.” One cannot help
feeling that Homo sapiens still has a long
evolution.
It is difficult to perceive for what kind way to go if this is the kind of commenof audience this film is designed. It is tary that is demanded by a general auwell composed and has some interesting dience.
views of the early pre-war work at the
Equally dispensable are the lurid reGorge and the discovery of the “Zinjan- constructions of Neanderthal man and of
thropus” skull in 1959, which can be ex- Homo habilis’ killing of an Afrochoerus.
pected to appeal to a scientific audience. Especially is this the case with the first
But it is marred for such an audience by one which has little in common with curother parts where technical considerations rent concepts on the appearance and
have taken precedence over factual pres- abilities of Homo sapiens neanderthalentation. For example, the commentary ensis.
AM. J. PHYS. ANTHROP.,34: 311-312
311
312
FILM REVIEW
The best part of the film is the excellent photography of game on the Serengeti
Plains that makes enjoyable viewing and
sets the stage for the story of the Gorge,
Indeed, the photography in general is
good though the colour is variable and
the film is inclined to go out of focus; in
places also the panning seems too quick.
This would have been a much better film
if it had been brought up to date and had
been given a different commentary.
Approximate running time is about
onehour.
J. DESMONDCLARK
University of California, Berkeley
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black, corporation, colour, britannica, dawn, white, producer, price, man, education, 1967, encyclopedia, 0004, 083, films, geographic, society, 327, national, edited, 167, leakey
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