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The Gospel According to the Papuans 1999


Distributed by Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street New York, N.Y. 10016; 212-808-4980
Produced by Canal +, Les Films d'ici, TBC Productions, Millennium Film
Directed by Thomas Balmes
VHS, color, 88 min.

Anthropology, Sociology, Religious Studies

Date Entered: 11/09/2018

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

This film records the baptism of one Chief Ghini of the Huli tribe, who lives somewhere on Papua New Guinea, and how the new beliefs that brought about this event affect his tribe. The film uses interviews to present the context, with various Papuans describing the rivalry between missionary groups for their attentions. It appears that the competition, at least in this locale, is now between the Catholics and the Seventh-Day Adventists (although the Methodists and Evangelical Church are mentioned.) One also catches views of the village and a worship service as well as Ghini's and other's baptisms. What may strike one is that the people's beliefs are such a hodge-podge that one is unsure of what they really do believe. Technically, this production is flawless. The color and images are all sharp, clear, and in focus. The sound is crisp, though, unless one is able to understand this tribe's language, this may not really matter. For the majority who will need them, the subtitles are amazingly clear and easy to read throughout the entire production. Recommended for undergraduate courses in sociology or anthropology as well as religion courses that focus on missions.