Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927)

Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness Movie Review

Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness is a 1927 silent documentary film directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack. It is a very strong early documentary.

………………………………………………….

But Man must live…

So Man fights on

………………………………………………….

Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness Movie Review

………………………………………………….

It follows the lives of Thai farmers and their relationship with various animals, especially leopards and elephants. So this film is basically a feature documentary, running at only around an hour, but that is still considered a feature. But it is interesting that for its time this was considered a live-action feature film as the documentary term was not yet invented.

In that way, Chang is very groundbreaking, especially in its portrayal of nature and a different culture. It was actually filmed on location and the action is pretty real and the danger was palpable for the filmmakers. Although I respect that, I still have a problem with them basically killing animals for just the movie and I think most audiences today would have a problem with that too.

It has a problem of focus as it doesn’t focus on just one thing and presents too many animals and Thai characters. It should have focused solely on one character and one coherent journey. It is also definitely too short as the material was ripe for at least twenty more minutes.

But I still enjoyed Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness quite a lot. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Production at the 1st Academy Awards which were the only awards which had that Best Picture equivalent category and I have to say that the nomination is much deserved.

………………………………………………….

Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The movie looks absolutely splendid. The cinematography is simply gorgeous and the natural landscapes and the animals looked magnificent. I do realize that it lost its edge nowadays and that many would not find it as fascinating today as it was back in its day, but to me it is still very intriguing to watch.

I liked its fittingly Thai score and I adored some scenes here – the highlights include the iconic elephant stampede sequence brilliantly filmed as well as all of the scenes with the monkeys, especially the one with the dogs. Very cute and funny. The intertitles are also solid and the direction from Cooper and Schoedsack is so strong and it is easy to see why they were chosen to direct ‘King Kong’ afterwards.

Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness lacks focus and is too short, but it is a groundbreaking early documentary feature with excellent direction from Cooper and Schoedsack, a couple of wonderful and brilliantly filmed sequences, great score and fascinating scenery.

My Rating – 4

Share
Posted in 1920s, 1927, Documentary, FILM DECADES, MOVIE REVIEWS, Silent and tagged , , , , , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.