CHANG – A Drama of the Wilderness

Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper
Thailand, USA 1927 | 70 Min. | 35 mm

with musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment by Günter A. Buch­wald

Before they cre­at­ed the most famous ape in the his­to­ry of film, KING KONG, Earnest B. Schoed­sack and Merian Cooper under­took a two-year jour­ney to the jungle of North­ern Thai­land in order to col­lect shots for their second quasi-doc­u­men­tary film, CHANG. CHANG dra­ma­tizes the strug­gle of the boy Kru and his family of the Lao tribe. They leave their ter­ri­to­ry in the Siamese jungle, wrest a clear­ance from the thick­et, fight against leop­ards and tigers and tame a young ele­phant. The thrilling and dili­gent­ly struc­tured story moves into a partly re-enact­ed scene that shows the destruc­tion of a com­plete vil­lage through a herd of ele­phant cows. With this doc­u­men­tary clas­sic Cooper and Schoed­sack have estab­lished aes­thet­ic stan­dards for later jungle adven­ture films. Impor­tant­ly, this early work also antic­i­pates themes of their own later fic­tion­al work, par­tic­u­lar­ly KING KONG (1933). CHANG shows impres­sive doc­u­men­tary shots of ani­mals that can no longer be cap­tured by a camera, as the land has been cul­ti­vat­ed and many species are either threat­ened with extinc­tion or have, in some cases, com­plete­ly died out.