The first 14 minutes of John Marshall’s 1958 documentary film “The Hunters” was released on November 30th by Documentary Educational Resources on the Google Video website. It is the first film about the Ju/’hoansi produced by the famed film maker. The full 70 minute video is available for purchase through the Google site.
The film has a remarkably relaxed feel to it. The first minute or so has no sound—we watch butterflies flitting in the grasses, birds taking off from trees, and animals moving through the bush. A background of Ju/’hoansi singing then starts when several hunters walk across the desert landscape, and the title finally flashes on three minutes into the production. The narrator begins his quiet discussion a minute after that.
He tells us that the name Ju/’hoansi means “Ourselves.” Filmed while the people still lived, for the most part, as nomads in the Kalahari Desert, the video (or at least the first 14 minutes of it) concentrates on hunting and gathering activities. The narration is quite effective. “From the ceaseless labors of women, pecking and digging at the land, comes most of the peoples’ food.” The video shows a woman working with her digging stick behind a hostile looking thorn bush as the discussion about the work of women continues.
One of the most effective scenes shows four boys learning to be hunters. They successfully stalk and kill a huge beetle—fill it full of their little, thorn-tipped arrows. “Little boys playing, pretending to be hunters, become hunters … It lays the foundation of all hunting—the sense of power in being a man,” the narrator says.
Documentary Educational Resources began releasing portions of the Marshall Family photo archive onto flickr in October. The portion of the video they have made available for free is a welcome addition to their outreach services.