At first glance, “The Gods Must Be Crazy” is an innocent comedy, full of guiltless slapstick and overtly-prolonged gags. Billed as “an epic comedy of absurd proportions,” it has become a worldwide cult favorite, earning millions, and Rotten Tomatoes ranks it at an impressive 95%. The 1980 film, directed by Jamie Uys, contrasts two distinctly different societies: the “Bushmen” of the Kalahari desert, and the civilian urbanites of post-colonial Africa. It acts as an allegory for the impact of technology on society; both its benefits and its pitfalls.
When Jamie Uys released the first Gods Must Be Crazy movie in 1980 he must have been astounded at the United States and the worldwide reception. Foreign films, even those originally filmed in English do not traditionally do very well in the United States. They play for a short while in the so called Art Houses, then they go away.
The Gods Must Be Crazy was an exception. It played in the theaters for almost three years, and was for a long time the highest grossing foreign film ever released in the US. That amounted to $30,031,000 in the US, about $100,000,000 worldwide. Not much by today’s, standards but then the money was worth more and that was then. In fact, in today’s money this would probably somewhere around ten times these amounts, a very respectable sum. Do you remember laughing really hard to this movie?