Thursday, July 29, 2010

MIFF 2010 - Cane Toads: The Conquest


After more than 20 years, Mark Lewis has returned to his classic topic in Cane Toads: The Conquest. We catch up with the relentless march of this unpopular guest in Australia.

The ingenuity of the local defenders and their futile attempts to stop its spread across Northern Australia are documented in detail. It is an salutary lesson in the dangers of eco experimentation. Yet there seems no sense of irony from those who hope for a biological or genetic solution.

There are some of the old favourites. Golf clubs! A taxi swerves across the road with more deadly accuracy than the original combi van. Monica Krause, the young girl who owned "Dairy Queen", reminisces about her gigantic pet toad.

Surprisingly it's the dogs who steal the show. Their closeups almost make the 3D worthwhile. Lewis manages to find a range of people who are more than willing to share their cane toad stories. There is a character gallery that is well worth visiting.

Mark keeps himself out of the conversation, a style that many other documentary makers could well copy. The politician talking heads became a little monotonous but that is their specialty.

Can't say that no toads were harmed in the making of this film. The gas extermination of thousands may disturb some viewers.

Nevertheless, Cane Toads: The Conquest is very engaging experience.

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