Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Darwin's Nightmare, The Movie

HT Trainer, a reader of this blog, Googled the term "Darwin's Cauchemar" (French for "Darwin's Nigtmare") from Monday's post and discovered that there is an entire web site called which is a promo for a 2004 documentary movie of the same name.

Who knew?

The movie is about the introduction of massive Nile Perch to Lake Victoria. The introduction of these fish into Africa's largest lake, around 1900, not only wrecked the natural ecology of the Lake, but perverted and twisted the economy as well.

Director Hubert Sauper writes:

Some time in the 1960's, in the heart of Africa, a new animal was introduced into Lake Victoria as a little scientific experiment. The Nile Perch, a voracious predator, extinguished almost the entire stock of the native fish species. However, the new fish multiplied so fast, that its white fillets are today exported all around the world

Huge hulking ex-Soviet cargo planes come daily to collect the latest catch in exchange for their southbound cargo… Kalashnikovs and ammunitions for the uncounted wars in the dark center of the continent.

This booming multinational industry of fish and weapons has created an ungodly globalized alliance on the shores of the world’s biggest tropical lake: an army of local fishermen, World bank agents, homeless children, African ministers, EU-commissioners, Tanzanian prostitutes and Russian pilots

The idea of this film was born during my research on another documentary, Kisangani Dairy that follows Rwandese refugees in the midst of the Congolese rebellion. In 1997, I witnessed for the first time the bizarre juxtaposition of two gigantic airplanes, both bursting with food. The first cargo jet brought 45 tons of yellow peas from America to feed the refugees in the nearby UN camps. The second plane took off for the European Union, weight with 50 tons of fresh fish.

Wow. This was bizarre. And what a story!

But what about the title? Hubert Sauper explains:

In DARWIN’S NIGHTMARE I tried to transform the bizarre success story of a fish and the ephemeral boom around this "fittest" animal into an ironic, frightening allegory for what is called the New World Order. I could make the same kind of movie in Sierra Leone, only the fish would be diamonds, in Honduras, bananas, and in Libya, Nigeria or Angola, crude oil. Most of us I guess, know about the destructive mechanisms of our time, but we cannot fully picture them. We are unable to "get it", unable to actually believe what we know.

It is, for example, incredible that wherever prime raw material is discovered, the locals die in misery, their sons become soldiers, and their daughters are turned into servants and whores.... It seems that the individual participants within a deadly system don't have ugly faces, and for the most part, no bad intentions. These people include you and me.

That's such a deep thought, the movie so interesting sounding, and the whole thing such an odd accidental find that it makes it to the blog. Big hat tip to HT Trainer for finding this! As for the movie itself, it's available on Amazon. Just click here.


1 comment:

HTTrainer said...

You're welcome, it reminded me of the rum and slave trade during our Colonial Days.