Friday, November 30, 2007

The African Queen

With my knee injury I've been working at more home-bound type of activities lately, catching up on all the little chores that get ignored when you're out traveling the world. One of the long-term chores that's been getting some attention is the task of getting rid of a large cubic volume of old video tapes. With hard disk capacity and video conversion gadgets getting cheap enough, I am moving everything into a mirrored media library that I could actually pick up and carry out of the house in one hand.

The old Beta tapes, starting on the day Debra was born back in 1983, were the highest priority, and I went on eBay and purchased a Beta machine to play them. Converting the home movies went smoothly and I believe I've almost gotten them all done. All I really lack is a large box of Hi-8 videos of Thomas playing highschool football.

But there are many, many other tapes that I need to convert as well. Old movies, TV specials, and an erratic selection of tape-now, view-whenever TV shows. One of the one's I converted was The African Queen, with Bogart and Hepburn. It's a great movie, and having just come back from Africa myself, I was fascinated to watch it again. I could see the crocodiles and hippos from my own experience as they came on the screen, and I knew just what kind of rivers there were on that continent.

But not everything was warm and fuzzy. That missionary church in the movie was just wrong.  Get this, they were set up in a bush village where the only access was via river and jungle trails, and they had a church organ?  While I believe it could happen, I can just imagine how far down on the priority list an organ must have been.

And the church service itself -- it was horrible.  I've been in a bush church.  They can out-sing us in spirit and enthusiasm.  It was nothing at all like the off-key painful singing shown in the movie.  The Zambians I met are natural singers, and while their Tonga songs were by far the best, they learn and sing English hymns for fun.  Even when they're struggling with a new English song, they do a good job at it.

Of course the movie wasn't set in Zambia, but I have to believe that the whole movie church service scene was more about the missionaries than about the people.

That's the thing about travel.  You get to experience things for yourself, and realize just how artificial a movie can be.


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