The Comedians in Africa (1967)

The Comedians in Africa Poster

Behind the scenes short documentary about the cast and crew during the filming of The Comedians.

Film Overview
"The Comedians in Africa" (1967) is a drama film produced by Peter Glenser and directed by noteworthy director Peter Glenville. The movie script was adjusted from Graham Greene's unique "The Comedians" (1966) by the author himself. The movie stars heavyweight stars like Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Alec Guinness, and Peter Ustinov.

Setting and Plot
The story unfolds in Haiti throughout the turbulent age of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, showcasing the raw and unnerving side of the tropical paradise, afflicted with hardship and dictatorship. The narrative weaves complexity, satirical humor, and dark reality, melodramatically hinting at political undercurrents present at the time.

Richard Burton plays the character of Brown, a dispirited hotel owner having an affair with Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), the partner of a South American ambassador. Guinness and Ustinov represent Mr. Smith and Captain Jones, respectively, both being visitors with individual intentions at Brown's hotel. An amusing subplot manifests in Jones pitching himself as a military Major, adding a touch of comedy. This ensemble of unlucky 'comics' jointly represent Greene's crucial view of foreign impact in postcolonial countries.

Depiction of Political Unrest
Inexplicably linked to the socio-political environment of Haiti, the movie tries to fathom the root of discontent under Duvalier's well-known guideline, showing appointments about naive idealism in a challenging political environment. The interaction between the characters and the Haitian Tontons Macoutes toughs in several tense sequences encapsulates this struggle.

Character Development
Each character holds significance in portraying the conflicts and problems of Haiti's duration. Burton depicts disillusionment and hopelessness, caught between his love for Martha and the decreasing potential customers of his hotel. Taylor personifies the guilt-ridden spouse, conflicted in an unfaithful relationship. Guinness as Smith, the vegetarian politician, reflects the well-meaning however ultimately futile foreign intervention. Last but not least, Ustinov as the bumbling, imposter Jones provides comic relief amid the major story, likewise representing the misleading, making use of immigrants.

Visual Portrayal and Cinematography
Shot in Dahomey (modern-day Benin) instead of Haiti, due to political situations, the film nonetheless succeeds in emulating Haiti's scenic landscape and architecture. Through panoramic shots of the Caribbean settings and in-depth representation of Vodou events, the cinematography underscores the haunting beauty of a country looming under the shadow of tyranny.

Crucial Reception
The movie faced blended evaluations, with specific critics praising the ensemble's efficiency and others slamming the film's unsuccessful attempt at blending humor and drama. In spite of criticisms, the significant messaging emerged through the plot, efficiencies, and settings were kept in mind to seriously represent an undercurrent of political colonizer-colonized relations that still hold relevance.

"The Comedians in Africa" stands as a vibrant narrative illustration upon Haiti's dismal historic period marred by political chaos. Though seemingly a story of foreign travelers with divergent motives, it dives deep into their subtle interactions with the host nation, resulting in a profound commentary on postcolonial foreign influences. Embellished with brilliant cinematography and star-studded performances, the movie remains seeped in both humor and gloom, real to its title-- a tale of 'comedians,' not in a traditional sense but representing people precariously veering on the edges of tragedy and farce.

Top Cast