It’s uncharacteristic of me to make a recommendation for people to go see a movie I myself haven’t yet seen, but I’m making an exception with Duma, the story of a boy who travels across South Africa to return his pet cheetah to the wild, the most recent film by Carroll Ballard. Based on Ballard’s previous films Fly Away Home (which I liked, with amazing airborne cinematography), and The Black Stallion (an amazing, beautiful movie) and the overwhelming positive buzz I’ve heard about Duma, I’m encouraging everyone to go out this week and see Duma.
And I mean this week. Here in Chicago, that may be all the time you have to catch this film on the big screen. And for the rest of you around the country, you’re just SOL. But, that might change. See, Warner Bros., the film’s distributor, isn’t confident the film will have a wide enough appeal at the box office to make it worth their while to distribute. After a brief trial run in a few cities, they were ready to pack the film off to the DVD shelves. Only the rallying cry of critic Roger Ebert got Duma a last-minute reprieve, if for only a week, and only in Chicago.
Here’s where we Chicago movie goers come in. If interest is great enough–meaning enough dollars pass across the ticket counter–Duma’s screen time might be increased and a wider audience will get the opportunity to see what is reputed to be a quality story beautifully told. Duma deserves a wider audience, and moviegoers in Chicago have a chance to help make that happen.
Director Carroll Ballard makes wonderful movies that appeal to audiences of all ages. Unfortunately, they’re often tagged as family films, and because they have a strong tie to nature and feature animals, many people take a pass figuring they’re just for kids. But anyone who loves good storytelling and breath-taking images, larger than life (meaning on the big screen) I would encourage you to see his movies.
If you’re one who likes to check in with the critics before you drop ten bucks on a movie, and Ebert’s endorsement isn’t enough, consider this. Rotten Tomatoes, the website that measures the critical rating for all theatrical films on a “freshness” rating of 1-100%, gives Duma a 100% freshness rating, meaning all of the critics tallied positively reviewed the film. The Dukes of Hazzard, number one at the box office this weekend, stands in stark contrast, with a rotten rating of just 19%.
Crap like Dukes (Stop the TV show remakes already!!!) keeps getting made because people keep going to see it in droves. Fine, there’s no accounting for taste, to each his own, whatever. The point is, if people keep paying to see it, they’re going to keep making it. I know there are people out there who are eager for the alternative, so let’s make it known. Get out there and vote with your box office dollars. It may not do any good at all, but you certainly won’t have wasted two hours or ten bucks. In fact, quite the opposite. I suspect we’ll all be treated to a film that will transport us to another world and more than hold our attention with gorgeous imagery for a couple of hours.
In his review, Roger Ebert urges people to go see the movie on it’s own merit, not just to make a point.
Moviegoers do not buy tickets to “support” a movie, nor should they. The reason to see “Duma” is that it’s an extraordinary film, and intelligent younger viewers in particular may be enthralled by it.
While I agree everyone should go see it because it’s an “extraordinary film” well worth seeing, I’m more pessimistic. I believe money talks. The best way for moviegoers to be heard by Hollywood and theatre owners is the old fashioned way, cold hard cash. So, I’m clearing my schedule tomorrow night and going to see Duma. I encourage you to join me.