The Gods Must Be Crazy: Wikis


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The Gods Must Be Crazy

Movie poster.
Directed by Jamie Uys
Produced by Jamie Uys
Written by Jamie Uys
Narrated by Paddy O'Byrne
Starring Nǃxau
Sandra Prinsloo
Marius Weyers
Louw Verwey
Michael Thys
Music by John Boshoff
Cinematography Buster Reynolds
Editing by Stanford C. Allen
Jamie Uys
Distributed by Jensen Farley Pictures (1982 - US, limited)
20th Century Fox (1984 - US, wide)
Sony Pictures (DVD)
Release date(s) 1980 (South Africa)
1982 (US-ltd)
July 13, 1984 (US-wide)
Running time 109 minutes
Country South Africa
Language English
Budget $5 million
Followed by The Gods Must Be Crazy II (1989)

The Gods Must Be Crazy is a film released in 1980, written and directed by Jamie Uys. The film is the first in The Gods Must Be Crazy series of films. Set in Botswana and South Africa, it tells the story of Xi, a Sho of the Kalahari Desert (played by Namibian San farmer Nǃxau) whose band has no knowledge of the world beyond. The film is followed by four sequels, the final three of which were made in Hong Kong.



The film is a collision of three separate stories—the journey of a Ju/'hoansi bushman to the end of the earth to get rid of a Coca-Cola bottle, the romance between a bumbling scientist and a schoolteacher, and a band of guerrillas on the run.

Xi and his band of San/Bushmen relatives are living well off the land in the Kalahari Desert. They are happy because the gods have provided plenty of everything, and no one in the tribe has unfulfilled wants. One day, a glass Coke bottle is thrown out of an aeroplane and falls to earth unbroken. Initially, this strange artifact seems to be another boon from the gods—-Xi's people find many uses for it. But unlike anything that they have had before, there is only one bottle to go around. This exposes the tribe to a hitherto unknown phenomenon, property, and they soon find themselves experiencing things they never had before: jealousy, envy, anger, hatred, even violence.

Since it has caused the band unhappiness on two occasions, Xi decides that the bottle is an evil thing and must be thrown off of the edge of the world. He sets out alone on his quest and encounters Western civilization for the first time. The film presents an interesting interpretation of civilization as viewed through Xi's perceptions.

There are also plot lines about shy biologist Andrew Steyn (Marius Weyers) who is studying the local animals (which, because of his nervousness around women, he once described as "manure-collecting"); the newly hired village school teacher, a former newspaper reporter named Kate Thompson (Sandra Prinsloo); and some guerrillas led by Sam Boga (Louw Verwey), who are being pursued by government troops after an unsuccessful attempt to massacre the Cabinet of the fictional African country of Burani. Also taking a share of the limelight is Steyn's Land Rover, dubbed the Antichrist (also Son of Maraka) by his assistant and mechanic, M'pudi (Michael Thys), for its unreliability and constant need of repair. Also part of the chaos is a fresh safari tour guide named Jack Hind (Nic de Jager), who has designs on Thompson and would often steal Steyn's thunder.

Xi happens upon a farm and, being hungry as well as oblivious to the concept of ownership, shoots a goat with a tranquilizer arrow. For this he is arrested and jailed for stealing livestock. M'pudi, who lived with the bushmen for a long time, realizes that Xi will die in the alien environment of a prison cell. He and Steyn manage to hire Xi as a tracker for the 11 weeks of his prison sentence, with the help of M'pudi, who speaks Xi's language. Meanwhile, the guerrillas invade the school where Kate teaches and use her and her pupils as human shields for their escape by foot to the neighboring country. Steyn and Xi manage to immobilize the guerrillas as they are passing by and save Kate and the children. Steyn allows Xi to leave to continue his quest to the edge of the world.

Xi prepares to throw the Coke bottle off the end of the earth.

Xi eventually finds himself at the top of a cliff with a solid layer of low-lying clouds obscuring the landscape below. This convinces Xi that he has reached the edge of the world, and he throws the bottle off the cliff. This scene was filmed at a place called God's Window in the then-Eastern Transvaal, South Africa (now Mpumalanga). This is at the edge of the escarpment between the Highveld and Lowveld of South Africa. Xi then returns to his band and receives a warm welcome.

Themes and reception

The first two films present the Ju/ʼhoansi as noble savages leading a simple, fairly utopian life in contrast with Western culture. Initially, the arrival of a Coca-Cola bottle, thrown from a passing light aircraft, represents the only exposure that the Ju/ʼhoansi have with Western culture. Richard Lee, an anthropologist who studied the Ju/ʼhoansi, argues that the film's representation of the group was a "cruel caricature of reality" given the decades of highly problematic social changes.[1] In Namibia, the Ju/ʼhoansi were relocated and forced to abandon their foraging lifestyle in favor of government food handouts so that, by the time of filming, the Bushmen actors had long ceased to be hunter-gatherers and were even confused by the instructions given to them by the directors, as briefly demonstrated in the film N!ai, the Story of a !Kung Woman. Even before this rapid change, the Ju/ʼhoansi had not been completely untouched by surrounding cultures and a single foreign artifact would not have upset the society's equilibrium.

While Western audiences found the films funny, there was considerable debate about its racial politics. The portrayal of Xi (particularly in the first film) as incapable of understanding the gods was viewed as insulting by some, including the government of Trinidad and Tobago, which consequently banned the film. However, its many fans believe that it is exactly the opposite, a send-up of so-called civilization and condemnation of racism with Xi as the hero. The film's progression from documentary style to comedy to the fantastical ending reveal its allegorical point.

Some of the debate centered on Xi's reaction to the first white people he met, assuming they were gods since they were strange (he had only known other Sho before), had road vehicles (which he also had never seen before), and were comparatively huge. However, within minutes he began doubting they were gods. The second film clearly shows Xi's greater understanding as he tells the children about the people he had met: "Heavy people... who seem to know some magic that can make things move," but are "not very bright, because they can't survive without their magic contrivances."

The films' depictions of the Bushmen, even if they were superficially accurate in the decades before the rapid social changes of the 1970s and 1980s, are clearly no longer accurate. The DVD's special feature "Journey to Nyae Nyae" (N!xau's homeland in northeastern Namibia), filmed in 2003, demonstrates this.

Despite the film having grossed over $100 million worldwide, Nǃxau reportedly earned less than $2000 for his starring role. Before his death, Uys supplemented this with an additional $20,000 as well as a monthly stipend.[2]


  1. ^ Lee (2003:175)
  2. ^ Lee (2003:186)


  • Lee, Richard (2003), The Dobe Ju/'hoansi, Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology (third ed.), Wadsworth Publishing  
  • The Numbers

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980) is a film written and directed by Jamie Uys. It depicts the the life of Bushmen tribe in a comical manner. It is also a satire on modern way of living suggesting a bushman life as utopian.


The Narrator

  • It looks like a paradise, but it is the most treacherous desert in the world, The Kalahari. After the short rainy season there are many water holes, and even rivers. But after a few weeks, the water sinks away into the deep Kalahari sand. The water holes dry, and the rivers stop flowing. The grass fades to a beautiful blond colour that offers excellent grazing. But for the next nine months, there will be no water to drink.So most of the animals move away, leaving the blond grass uneaten.

  • Humans avoid the Kalahari like the plague because man must have water. So the beautiful landscapes are devoid of people. Except for the little people of the Kalahari.Pretty, dainty, small and graceful, the Bushmen. Where any other person would die of thirst in a few days they live quite contentedly in this desert. They know where to dig for roots and bugs and tubers and which berries and pods are good to eat. Of course they know what to do about water. In the early morning,you can collect dewdrops from leaves that were carefully laid out the previous evening. Or a plume of grass can be a reservoir.If you have the know-how, a clump of twigs can tell you where to dig and you come to light with an enormous tuber. You scrape shavings off it with a stick that is split for a sharp edge. You take a handful of the shavings, point your thumb at your mouth and squeeze. They must be the most contented people in the world. They have no crime, no punishment, no violence, no laws no police, judges, rulers or bosses. They believe that the gods put only good and useful things on the earth for them.

  • In this world of theirs, nothing is bad or evil. Even a poisonous snake is not bad. You just have to keep away from the sharp end. Actually, a snake is very good. In fact, it's delicious. And the skin makes a fine pouch.

  • They live in the vastness of the Kalahari in small family groups. One family of Bushmen might meet up with another once in a few years. But for the most part, they live in complete isolation unaware there are other people in the world. In the deep Kalahari, there are Bushmen who have not heard of civilized man.

  • Sometimes they hear a thundering sound when there are no clouds. They assume the gods have eaten too much and their tummies are rumbling. Sometimes they can even see the evidence of the gods' flatulence.

  • Their language has an idiosyncrasy of its own. It seems to consist mainly of clicking sounds.

  • They're very gentle people. They'll never punish a child or even speak harshly to it. So the kids are extremely well-behaved. Their games are cute and inventive.

  • When the family needs meat the hunter dips his arrow in a brew that acts as a tranquilliser. When he shoots a buck, it feels a sting and the arrow drops out. The buck runs away, but soon it gets drowsy and it stops running. After a while, it goes to sleep. The hunter apologizes. He explains that his family needs the meat.

  • The characteristic which really makes them different from all other races is that they have no sense of ownership at all. Where they live, there's nothing you can own. Only trees and grass and animals.

  • These Bushmen have never seen a stone or a rock in their lives. The hardest things they know are wood and bone. They live in a gentle world, where nothing is as hard as rock, steel or concrete.

  • Only 600 miles to the south, there's a vast city.And here you find civilized man. Civilized man refused to adapt himself to his environment. Instead he adapted his environment to suit him. So he built cities, roads, vehicles, machinery. And he put up power lines to run his labour-saving devices. But he didn't know when to stop. The more he improved his surroundings to make life easier the more complicated he made it. Now his children are sentenced to 10 to 15 years of school, to learn how to survive in this complex and hazardous habitat. And civilized man, who refused to adapt to his surroundings now finds he has to adapt and re-adapt every hour of the day to his self-created environment. For instance, if it's Monday and 7:30 comes up, you have to disadapt from your domestic surroundings and re-adapt yourself to an entirely different environment. 8:00 means everybody has to look busy. 10:30 means you can stop looking busy for 15 minutes. And then, you have to look busy again. Your day is chopped into pieces. In each segment of time you adapt to new circumstances.

  • In the Kalahari, it's always Tuesday, or Thursday if you like. Or Sunday. No clocks or calendars tell you to do this or that.

  • Lately, strange new things sometimes appeared in the sky. Noisy birds that flew without flapping their wings.

  • One day, something fell from the sky. Xi had never seen anything like this in his life. It looked like water, but it was harder than anything else in the world. He wondered why the gods had sent this thing down to the earth. It was the strangest and most beautiful thing they had ever seen. They wondered why the gods had sent it to them. Pabo got his finger stuck in the thing and the children thought he was very funny. Xi tried the thing out to cure thongs. It had the right shape and weight. It was also beautifully smooth and ideal for curing snakeskin. And Pabo discovered you could make music on it. And every day they discovered a new use for the thing. It was harder and heavier and smoother than anything they'd ever known. It was the most useful thing the gods had ever given them. A real labour-saving device. But the gods had been careless. They had sent only one. Now, for the first time, here was a thing that could not be shared because there was only one of it. Suddenly, everybody needed it most of the time. A thing they had never needed before became a necessity. And unfamiliar emotions began to stir. A feeling of wanting to own, of not wanting to share. Other new things came. Anger, jealousy, hate and violence.

  • The most inquisitive creature in Africa is the baboon. Xi said(to the baboon after it took away the Coca cola bottle), "That is a very evil thing you've got. You better give it back so I can take it and throw it off the earth. It brought unhappiness to my family. If you don't give it to me it'll bring grief to you and your family too. " He spoke long and earnestly until the baboon began to pay attention. He must have convinced it, and it dropped the thing. And Xi said, "You have done a very wise thing.

  • One day, a very noisy animal rushed past where Xi was sleeping. It left very peculiar tracks, as if two enormous snakes had slithered past.

  • The rhino is the self-appointed fire-prevention officer. When he sees a fire, he rushes in and stamps it out.

  • That morning, Xi saw the ugliest person he'd ever come across. She was as pale as something that had crawled out of a rotting log. Her hair was quite gruesome long and stringy and white, as if she was very old. She was very big. You'd have to dig the whole day to find enough food to feed her. Although it was a hot day, she was wearing skins that looked as if they were made from cobwebs. She was doing strange and magical things. It struck him that she must be one of the gods. He wondered what she was doing on earth. He was glad he met her. He'd give her the evil thing and go home to his family. He said tactfully that he didn't need the thing, and she could have it back. But she was very rude, and she walked away.

  • There was another god. He had a fire inside him. The smoke came out through his mouth and nostrils. Xi said politely, "It was kind of you to send us this thing but it made my family unhappy. Please take it. "

  • There was a peculiar sound, and Xi saw a most amazing animal approaching. It's legs went around instead of up and down. And there was a weird-looking god on its back. He wore blue skin on his head and red on his body. And hair grew on his face.

  • The funny thing about these gods was that they couldn't speak. They made sounds like monkeys.

Andrew Steyn

  • Miss Thompson, if you make a fire, and a rhinoceros sees it he comes and stamps it out. Rhinos do that. It's a most interesting phenomenon.
  • They're Tswanas. They always shake their heads when they mean to say yes.
  • That's a watape tree. You mustn't go near a watape tree. They grab you.
  • I don't want to talk about it.
  • And why are you so beautiful?


  • Sir! Sir! Some people went through here. They didn't show me their passports and They smashed down the barrier. They've got guns. This is Frank speaking, Sir .
  • I Stopped them. Sir!

Kate Thompson

  • I don't want to talk about it.
  • Are you scared it'll spoil your image if you admit you made a mistake?

The Policeman

  • Do you speak English? You are free to remain silent until you have seen your lawyer. But if you choose to speak now, whatever you say will be taken down as evidence against you.


  • You don't want to talk about it, huh? Shame.
  • I don't want to talk about it.
  • You better do your thing before the pupils come.


Woman (at the Restaurant): Does the noise in my head bother you?
Kate: No.

Kate: Still got that story about the teacher shortage in Botswana?
Pete: Yeah. You gonna use it?
Kate: No. Maybe they can use me.

Mpudi: And why are you so beautiful?
Mr. Steyn: I'm going to the schoolto give her these.
Mpudi: You gonna look like that?
Mr. Steyn: Like what?
Mpudi: Like it's a funeral. You've gotta smile and tell her she looks good.
Mr. Steyn: How are you an expert on women?
Mpudi: I got seven wives. How many you got?
Mr. Steyn: Why aren't you at home with them?
Mpudi: I know how to marry them. Nobody knows how to live with them.
Mr. Steyn: So, what did you marry them for?
Mpudi: Someday I have to tell you the facts of life.

Mpudi: You gonna look like that forever?
Mr. Steyn: Like what?
Mpudi: Like Jack Hind is better than you.
Mr. Steyn: No, I'm going to talk to her.
Mpudi: Tell her you were the big hero.
Mr. Steyn: No, I can't do that. But I do want to talk to her. I'll tell her. I'll say, "Look, Miss Thompson. I know you think I'm an idiot but normally I'm quite normal. It's only when I'm in the presence of a lady that I... It's really just an interesting psychological phenomenon. If a man who is susceptible to a type of para-Freudian syndrome like this encounters a nubile female, what happens?"
Mpudi: I suppose another big word happens.
Mr. Steyn: Too erudite?
Mpudi: Yeah, whatever that means.
Mr. Steyn: Okay. I'll put it more simply. I'll say: "Look, Miss Thompson. Kate. Kate. It's really only an interesting psychological phenomenon." She'll understand that bit. She's a schoolteacher. Ill say, "When there's no lady present. I can catch an insect without hurting it." If she knew me better, she'd see I'm not a stumblebum. I need is a little practise. If I--
Mpudi: Wait for me. You need moral support.

Mr. Steyn: Morning, Miss Thompson.
Kate: Morning.
Mr. Steyn: How are you?
Kate: Fine, thanks. How are you?
Mr. Steyn: Fine, thanks, and how are you?
Kate: I'm fine, thank you.
Mr. Steyn: Kate. I know you think I'm an idiot but I'm not really like that. It's only when I'm around wom...Around you. I'm sorry. Normally, I'm quite normal. But whenever I'm in the presence of a lady my fingers turn into thumbs, my brain switches off.
Kate: Watch it!
Mr. Steyn: It's flour.
Kate: I noticed.
Mr. Steyn: It's actually, Actually, it's really only an interesting psychological phenomenon. Perhaps it's some Freudian syndrome. When I brought you your shoes, I came to apologise for the stupid things I did when I met you at Mabula. To explain that I'm not as stupid as that. But then, of course, I blew it, and I, So I don't blame you if you think But it's really only an interesting psychological. When you get to know me better, you'll see that I'm not always stumbling. It's really just an interesting psychological phenomenon.
Kate: Yes, you are a very interesting psychological phenomenon. And I think you're very sweet.

External Links

Simple English

The Gods Must Be Crazy is a movie from 1980, directed by Jamie Uys, and released in the United States by 20th Century Fox.

The Gods Must Be Crazy was the highest-grossing foreign movie of all time upon its release. From 1989 to 1994, four sequels followed. The last three in the series were made in Hong Kong.


It stars Namibian farmer N!xau as a Bushman, whose happy village (located in Africa's Kalahari desert) suddenly turns to a violent society, after a Coke bottle falls down there from a passing airplane. The Bushman, Xixo, decides to return the bottle to the "end of the earth", to finish all the evil his family has gone through. Along the way, he meets a group of terrorists on the run, as well as a clumsy scientist who falls in love with a former newspaper journalist. During his journey, Xixo encounters modern civilisation for the first time.

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