THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY
SUBJECTS — World/Africa;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Romantic Relationships;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Respect.
AGE: 9+; MPAA Rating — PG;
Comedy; 1984; 109 minutes; Color. Available from Amazon.com.
MOVIE WORKSHEETS & STUDENT HANDOUTS
TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students’ minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film.
Teachers can modify the worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM’s Movies as Literature Homework Project.
A Coke bottle dropped from an airplane disrupts the quiet life of a family of African Bushmen (the San people) living in the deep isolation of the Kalahari desert. Xi, the head of the family, takes the evil thing and embarks on a journey to the end of the world to return it to the gods. At the same time, a white teacher is fed up with city life and takes a job in Botswana. She meets a shy and bumbling scientist. Their adventures and misadventures are intertwined with Xi’s journey.
SELECTED AWARDS & CAST
1983 Montreal World Film Festival: Most Popular Film.
N!xau, Marius Weyers, Sandra Prinsloo, Louw Verwey, Jamie Uys, Michael Thys, Nic de Jager.
BENEFITS OF THE MOVIE
The viewer is allowed to see himself from the Bushman’s point of view and is introduced to their culture. The movie will provide an opportunity to discuss the Bushman society and societies like it, as well as the Kalahari desert.
This hilarious film also contains much information about Africa as well as beautiful photography of its landscape, its skies and its animals.
MINIMAL. There is a mild amount of profanity. The school teacher’s dress is wet through, displaying her body and she is shown in her underwear. The scenes are innocent and not sexually suggestive. The film glosses over the many hardships of Bushman life, which simply wears them out so that most don’t reach the age of 50 years. It has been charged that this film is racist in its condescension toward the Bushmen. While certain parts of the opening narration support this view, overall the film presents Bushman society in a positive light.
Ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question for this film and the Quick Discussion Question for “The Gods Must Be Crazy – II“. Show your child or class, on a globe or a map, the Kalahari, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.
The Kalahari is a vast expanse of arid and semi-arid land located in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It is about 275,000 square miles in size. Most of the Kalahari has red soils and low growing grasses and brush. Large patches of sand are found in the eastern portion of the desert. Rainfall is about 9 inches per year.
“Bushmen” is a South African name for the San people, also known as Khoi-San, an ethnic group of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and Namibia. The San language uses click sounds. Traditionally, the San are hunter-gatherers who live in small groups of about ten nuclear families which hold sway over about 300 square miles of territory. Home sites are changed once a month as food becomes scarce. The San use light bows and arrows tipped with poison to hunt. Some live in caves, others in huts.
The San have artistic ability and complex religion. Each band has a hereditary leader but he has only limited powers. Many of the San have become farm laborers and are losing their cultural heritage. It is reported that when Uys found N!xau, the actor who played Xi, N!xau was working as a cook and had never supported himself by hunting and gathering.
2. Why did the white people seem uneducated and stupid to Xi?
Xi thought whites were uneducated and stupid because whites did not know how to survive in his environment.
3. Why did the bottle have a bad effect on Bushman society?
Before the bottle came, everything was shared among the Bushmen. But the bottle was unique and thought to be a gift from the gods. Everyone wanted it or wanted a turn to try out different things with it.
4. Why couldn’t Xi exist for long shut up in jail?
He was used to living in the open world.
1. Have you ever “frozen” in the presence of a person of the opposite sex and been unable to say anything or at least anything that is even remotely intelligent? What causes this and how can you get over it?
Most everyone has done this and everyone one has to come up with their own solution. A number of suggestions are: realize that he or she is a person with fears and shynesses, too, even if they don’t exhibit them in public as you are doing right then when you are frozen; make a joke to break the ice (try not to make a stupid joke); go home and practice and then try again later; give up and condemn yourself to a life of regret (see Cyrano de Bergerac; look what he missed and you can’t be any worse looking than Cyrano); if you start to talk you may fail, but at least you have a chance; if you stand there without saying anything, you will always fail.
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS (CHARACTER COUNTS)
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.
(Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements)
1. Does the culture of the San people appear to be deserving of your respect? Who has the right to answer that question, the San people or foreigners?
People must answer this question on their own. But it is clear that the culture of the San people deserves respect. They know how to live in a harsh environment in which most other peoples of the world would quickly perish. They are also deserving of respect because they are people. We cannot sit in judgment of an entire culture.
2. Do you feel that after seeing this film you have more respect for the San people? Why?
See response to the preceding question.
3. Who is better able to function in a desert environment, the San people or “the heavy people” with all our technology?
Obviously, it is the San.
ASSIGNMENTS, PROJECTS & ACTIVITIES
This Learning Guide was last updated on December 10, 2009.