Dennis O’Rourke
Australia 1988 | 70 Min. | 35 mm, OmU
Q&A with:
Dennis O’Rourke

»I wonder if their way of life is better than ours, truly living with nature?«
»The experts say that they are happy, well-fed, satisfied.«
»That’s right. The prob­lem is apathy and indolence.«
»But we must try to help them to advance in the world. To edu­cate and stim­u­late them to behave differently.«

This dia­logue is part of a dis­cus­sion amongst tourists who cruise the river Sepik in Papua New Guinea on a luxury cruis­ing boat after they have vis­it­ed one of the local vil­lages. CANNIBAL TOURS inves­ti­gates the dif­fer­ences and the strik­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties that show up when socalled »civ­i­lized« people meet socalled »prim­i­tive« ones. Accord­ing to Dennis O’Rourke this film shows two jour­neys: The cruise itself and a trip in the meta­phys­i­cal sense of the word. This second jour­ney is an attempt to dis­cov­er the place of the ‚other’ in the pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion, to look behind that shift­ing con­cept of civ­i­liza­tion, where modern mass-cul­ture grates and pushes against those orig­i­nal, essen­tial aspects of human­i­ty, and where much of what passes for ‚values’ in west­ern cul­ture, is exposed in stark relief as banal and fake. 

In a humoris­tic way, O’Rourke lets the vis­i­tors com­ment on the vis­it­ed and the other way round.