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Island of the moon.

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Film Review
Island of the Moon
Department of Anthropology, The University of Calgary, Calgary,
Alberta, Canada, TZM 1NR
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Program Sales Department,
Box 500, Terminal A, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. M5W lE6,1979.16mm
colour sound film, $590 (Can.): 3/” videocassette, $135 (Can.); rental $59
(Can.).55 minutes.
“The Nature of Things,” a CBC series hosted
by Dr. David Suzuki, a geneticist turned
broadcaster, is one of the continuing delights
of Canadian television. The production titled
Island of the Moon is an in-depth examination
of the lemurs of Madagascar. The cinematography by R. Kovanic is excellent, even outstanding, and since it was shot with synchronized sound, the viewer is presented with a
vibrant “being there” sensory impression. This
is heightened by excellent and unobtrusive
The film is the first to depict the lemurs and
their proper ecological milieu. In the course of
55 minutes, we see a large amount of coverage
of Propithecus and Indri indn, with views of
dwarf and mouse lemurs, Daubentonia, Lemur
catta and Hapalemur. The footage of Indn is
the first that I have encountered on the
species. At a number of points freeze frames
are used to show grooming claws, and slow
motion is employed to depict the locomotion of
different lemurs, both on the ground and arboreally. The slow-motion sequence of a Propithecus bipedally bounding across an open
field is so good that it could be used for a biomechanical analysis.
The film endeavours to show several distinctive ecological settings such as the Berenty
0 1982 ALAN R. LISS. INC.
and Andrasivi rain forests and the dry Didiera
forests. It also presents some of the other distinctive lifeforms of Madagascar such as the
endemic fruit bats, paradise flycatchers, tenrecs, Malagasy kestrel, Kuas, and chameleons.
Throughout, the program attempts to convey
a sense of the reality of the ecology. The narration occasionally takes up the conservation
flag, but in the end admits that, while the
government of the Malagasy Republic holds
the ideal of preserving its unique ecosystem,
that goal is economically impractical for many
reasons. The narration also points up the vast
research potential for both primatologists and
human ecologistsleconomists in the country.
The film incorporates a number of very intriguing and unique sequences that are worthwhile in themselves, not the least of which is a
segment showing harrier hawks copulating
while the narrator remains decorously silent.
The producers wisely enlisted the aid of Ian
Tattersall, Alison Richard, and Robert Sussann as consultants on the program. They can
be very proud of the final product. This is one
of the most useful teaching films that I have
ever seen, and I hope that the producers of
“The Nature of Things” will do similar programs on other regions of interest to
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