Cannibal Tours is a 1988 documentary film by Australian director and cinematographer Dennis O'Rourke. While it borrows heavily from ethnographic modes of representation, the film is a biting commentary on the nature of modernity. The film documents a cruise ship tour down the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea as wealthy European and American tourists go in search of “primitive” cultures. The film captures cross-cultural miscommunication as tourists and hosts misunderstand one another, usually comically, often disturbingly.
The film follows a number of European and American ecotourists as they travel from village to village throughout the Sepik River area in Papua New Guinea, driving hard bargains for local handcrafted items, paying to view formerly sacred ceremonies and taking photographs of every aspect of "primitive" life. With some prodding, the tourists unwittingly reveal an unattractive and pervasive ethnocentrism to O'Rourke's cameras. The tourists thus become somewhat dehumanized by the camera, even as the tourists themselves are busy exoticizing even the most mundane aspects of Sepik River life.
"Dennis O'Rourke's Cannibal Tours is simply (to be more precise, complexly) stunning. While the cameras snap, the tourists bargain, and Sonny and Cher sing 'I Got You Babe' over Radio Moscow, the Papua New Guineans try to hold onto their world. 'We sit here confused,' one laments, 'while they take pictures of everything' - while O'Rourke's camera shoots the whole of a social relation that is taking over the world, the relation between the seeing and the seen. This double anthropology subtly shows how connoisseurship and condescension are linked, and how little the Western tribe of tourists understand their own culture. Cannibal Tours succeeds in being both devastating and charming - an amazing combination." - Todd Gitlin, author of The Whole World is Watching, The Sixties, Inside Prime Time and The Twilight of Common Dreams
"A dryly funny, perceptive, and terribly disturbing documentary masterwork." - John Hinde, ABC Radio (Sydney)
"Cannibal Tours is two journeys. The first is that depicted - rich and bourgeois tourists on a luxury-cruise up the mysterious Sepik River, in the jungles of Papua New Guinea ... the packaged version of a 'heart of darkness'. The second journey (the real text of the film) is a metaphysical one. It is an attempt to discover the place of 'the Other' in the popular imagination. It affords a glimpse at the real (mostly unconsidered or misunderstood) reasons why 'civilised' people wish to encounter the 'primitive'. The situation is that shifting terminus of civilisation, where modern mass-culture grates and pushes against those original, essential aspects of humanity; and where much of what passes for values in western culture is exposed in stark relief as banal and fake." - Dennis O'Rourke, director of Cannibal Tours.
Making Of Notes
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Source: VHS Rip Duration: 1h 6mn Framerate: 29.970 fps Dimensions: 656x400 (1.640) Codec: XviD @ 1356 Kbps (BVOP) Audio: MP3 @ 80 Kbps (VBR) Language: Various spoken, English hardsubbed