The Great Dance: A Hunter's Story

This fascinating, if somewhat overlong, documentary about the !Xo San hunters of the Kalahari rises few notches above Discovery Channel-type fare, thanks mostly to the thrilling you-are-there images captured by tiny cameras attached to the hunters and their fleeing prey. The film follows !Nqate Xqamxebe and two of his fellow hunters as they trek deep into...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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This fascinating, if somewhat overlong, documentary about the !Xo San hunters of the Kalahari rises few notches above Discovery Channel-type fare, thanks mostly to the thrilling you-are-there images captured by tiny cameras attached to the hunters and their

fleeing prey. The film follows !Nqate Xqamxebe and two of his fellow hunters as they trek deep into the Kalahari looking for food. As !Nqate explains, there are three principal hunting strategies. Hunting by tracking involves interpreting the nearly invisible signs in the desert landscape —

!Nqate can tell the age of a paw print based solely on the superimposed track of a scorpion's tail. Like forensic experts at a crime scene, the hunters can reconstruct a springbok's capture by a cheetah and the location of its body. The second method involves arrows dipped in the poisonous juices

of beetle larvae, and here the hunters are shown stalking, killing and curing a pair of enormous porcupines. But it's the hunt by chasing that makes the film worth watching. Under the broiling Kalahari sun the "runner" chases his prey in an exhausting run to the death that can last up to six

hours. For the first time anywhere, filmmaking brothers Craig and Damon Foster capture this rare event as it happens, and it's something to see. In addition to discussing the nearly spiritual union the hunters form with their prey during the hunt, the film is also careful point out the ways in

which southern Africa's current geopolitical situation has endangered the lives of people like the !Xo San: Expansive wildlife preserves now separate them from their chief source of food, and many hunters have had their hunting licenses revoked. Intriguing stuff, but this recommendation comes with

a warning: The graphic nature of the killing may make the film unsuitable for the very young, the squeamish and faint-hearted vegetarians.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This fascinating, if somewhat overlong, documentary about the !Xo San hunters of the Kalahari rises few notches above Discovery Channel-type fare, thanks mostly to the thrilling you-are-there images captured by tiny cameras attached to the hunters and thei… (more)

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