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ingagi
Credit: Kino Lorber

Movie Reviews

Strange and Fantastic Tales of the 20th Century: ‘Ingagi’

Behold, the long lost Ingagi!

Strange and Fantastic Tales of the 20th Century is a look back at the weirdest, most memorable, and most off center movies of the 20th century. From head turning horror to oddball science fiction this column examines the films that will leave a lasting impression for centuries to come.

By the year 2021 we have seen our fair share of hoaxes. From The War of the World and Cannibal Holocaust to The Blair Witch Project, audiences worldwide have been asked to put full faith in their eyes and ears. William Campbell’s 1930 alleged documentary Ingagi asks audiences to believe that there was an expedition to Africa where some explorers came across a tribe that sacrifices women to gorillas. Ingagie inspired future “shockumentaries” and of course, elements of this can be seen in King Kong. This week’s strange and fantastic tale looks at Ingagi, now newly restored on Blu-ray by Kino Films and Something Weird video.

I can’t help but wonder what inspired this film or how it was put together. It seems as if the camera was rolling and a story developed from whatever happened to take place while filming. The film follows Sir Hubert Winstead, Daniel Swayne, Arthur Clayton, and Louis Nozor who spend the first sixty minutes of the film walking about Africa, mingling with the residents, and observing the wildlife. This movie was filmed in Los Angeles, but many scenes  were stolen from other films to create this journey. Ingagi is enjoyable to watch and it is always interesting to check out a film that has been hidden way from the public after its controversial debut. The reasons for the controversy are many.

First of all, the premise of the film is a lie. Secondly, it helps to perpetuate harmful and racist stereotypes against indigenous cultures. Not only is the audience asked to believe a tribe would sacrifice a woman to ward away a gorilla, there is also the very overt insinuation that women mated with primates. Bestiality is a pretty taboo concept now, but it must have really unsnapped some spats in the 1930’s.

Strange and Fantastic Tales of the 20th Century: 'Ingagi'

The film continues like an anthropological study of an exotic location and its culture until it gets to the last 80 minutes when we are introduced to women who have children with simian features. Now, what makes this particularly odd is that at the start of the film, we are introduced to a legend about barren women and their offerings to the Inagi, another word for gorilla. An hour later, this legend comes into play.

Ingagi, as strange and full of lies as it is, is intriguing to watch in its restoration. Ingagi also has some funny moments concerning nature and “a mysterious animal” in the wild. If you are into old films and  hoaxes, watch Ingagi.

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