Africa is a land that hardly needs an introduction. It will certainly surpass every imaginary picture you have created of it. The land of the first humans and the birthplace of life as we know it continues to withhold an intrinsic sense of raw and natural beauty. However, there is something about movies that inspire us to visit places or at least help our excitement levels reach new peaks. In fact, movies often serve as sources of information about new places, providing facts and stories that are otherwise unheard of. They inspire us to find answers and feed our curiosity, often adding a different flavour to the experience that we envision in our travels. Here are a few movies about Africa that not only do visual justice to its immense beauty but also highlight specific elements of the continent that are intrinsic to the entire experience of Africa.
The Lion King
A film that defies age groups and time, the Lion King has penetrated worldwide audiences to an extent that is almost impossible to believe. Offering a gripping tale about animals indigenous to Africa, the Lion King blends tradition, natural beauty and storytelling in a manner that compels us to associate with the characters, regardless of the fact that it is animated. You hardly come across someone who has not watched this epic. It would be sacrilege not to include the Lion King in this list, because it forms one of the first visual aids to our understanding of Africa, and portrays the natural gems of the continent in the perfect light. It for sure brings out the kid in you and make you want to go on a safari in Tanzania or a Safari in Kenya.
The Ghost and the Darkness
Africa is about an adventure; it allows you to create your own adventure in the wildest of wild surroundings. Africa is also about the Lion – the majestic and ruthless big cat that defines Africa in more ways than one. The Ghost and the Darkness might just make you recalibrate your idea of an African adventure; the hunter becomes the hunted and demands the respect of the watcher. Starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas, this film is about the man-eaters of Tsavo National Park. A tale lost in time, it is held that these two lions were responsible for numerous deaths of workers employed in building the Kenya-Ugandan railways system back in the 1890s. While not being a cinematographic masterpiece, they act as a perfect reminder to the respect that these majestic beasts demand.
The Gods Must Be Crazy
A film based on a much lighter note, the Gods Must Be Crazy makes for a hilarious yet meaningful watch. Based on the life of a bushmen tribesman living in the Kalahari, this movie follows his life as it is uprooted by the introduction of a glass Coca-Cola bottle. Serving as a metaphorical symbol of the outside world, the movie follows this tribesman’s quest to throw the bottle off the edge of the world. It blends elements of jungle tribal life with picturesque montages of the savannahs of Africa, offering a light-hearted yet significant insight into the cultural differences that one must consider while visiting the sacred land of Africa.
Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom
An element that has been part of Africa’s pst for a long time is that of apartheid. An even greater element has been defined through the historic crusades of Nelson Mandela. One of the most inspiring figures the world has ever borne, A Long Walk to Freedom makes for a gripping and emotional watch. Digging into the cultural nuances that formed the chunk of Africa’s political commentary for the past few decades, this film resonates deeply with most watchers. From the humbling imagery of his beginning as a village herd boy to the inspiring journey filled with injustice, despair and eventual glory as president of South Africa, this biopic will serve as a great introduction to the immense cultural currents that have defined the lives of many African people in the last few decades (there are several other films that go into the inhuman and unjust treatment of African people in different countries, but those would unfortunately form a whole other list just by themselves).
A truly moving tale that encapsulates the human spirit, Hotel Rwanda is based on the mass genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda that led to the death of almost a million Rwandans. The film follows the events that took place at Hotel Des Mille Collines in Kigali. Amidst all the torture, this is a tale of bravery and the spirit of hotel manager Paul Rusembegi, who risked his life as he housed over a thousand refugees inside the hotel while making it look completely normal on the outside in terms of its operation. While it may not make for the most memorable images when you think of Africa, it is an element of extreme significance that typifies a continent that has battled several civil wars and countless deaths in the same breath. It adds a humbling and very real flavour to the definition of Africa.
Africa: The Serengeti (IMAX)
This original IMAX blockbuster from the ‘90s follows one of the most awe-inspiring acts in nature – the great migration. Starring hundreds of thousands of Wildebeest and Zebra, the great migration is probably the event that most people visit Africa for. Defining the circle of life, the great migration is a cyclical event that begins with breeding, followed by the journey that chases the rains and grazing pastures as the Wildebeest and Zebra travel north from the vast Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. Interspersed with predators like Lion and Cheetah stalking weak and stranded young ones, this 40 minute escapade is filled with spectacular frames of raw action with the most beautiful backdrop of endless plains and a setting sun – minimalistic and truly awe-inspiring. This film will certainly make you want to advance those tickets and make you want to step into the vehicle for a Safari in Tanzania as soon as possible!
Binge watch these movies over the weekend, and the next thing you will find yourself doing is planning your African adventure. Whether its a Safari in Tanzania or a Safari in Kenya, Africa is definitely a place that will tickle the adventurer in you!