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When Jamie Uys released the first Gods Must Be Crazy movie in 1980 he must have been
astounded at the United States and the worldwide reception. Foreign films, even those originally
filmed in English do not traditionally do very well in the United States. They play for a short
while in the so called Art Houses, then they go away.
The Gods Must Be Crazy was an exception. It played in the theaters for almost three
years, and was for a long time the highest grossing foreign film ever released in the US.
That amounted to $30,031,000 in the US, about $100,000,000 worldwide. Not much by today's,
standards but then the money was worth more and that was then. In fact, in today's money
this would probably somewhere around ten times these amounts, a very respectable sum.
More About N!xau -
|N!xau, played the role of XI, or XIXO,
in at least five movies. His outgoing screen personna, and shining white teeth became
a symbol of the movies. There are several conflicting stories about him, not the least
of which is what was his real name: His manager says his name was G!kau, changed to
N!xau because of a typographical error. Tangeni Amupadhi, writing in
The Namibian says
his name was Cgao Coma. Makoto Kawamura in
African Journal says it was Di//xay G/aq'o-/xana. These obituaries
which appeared in 2003 appear to no longer be available.
Jamie Uys, the writer, director,
and small part actor (he played the Reverand in the first movie) spread several stories
about N!xau. Among them was that he had never seen a white person before, that he was living
as a hunter-gatherer when found, that he threw away the $300 he was paid for acting in the
first film. It appears that this may be somewhat Hollywood, or at least the South African
equivalent. Most stories agree that when found N!xau was working as a cook in a restaurant,
(some say he was the janitor in a public school) presumably this meant that he had some
idea of the value of money. He didn't know his own age or birthday. But government records
list his birthday as December 16, 1944. This made him about 59 when he died of "multiple-drug
resistant TB" early in July of 2003, the reports give conflicting dates). He died while out
hunting birds, or maybe he was collecting firewood. His estate consisted of 21 cattle, 11
sheep, two horses, two bicycles, two spades, two rakes and five axes.
Question: Why didn't Coca-Cola hire him for advertising?
Jamie (Johannes Jacobus) Uys made about 44 movies. He first achieved some international success
with a documentary called
Animals are Beautiful People in 1975 (Which is still available)). He then spent three
years making the first Gods Must Be Crazy movie. It was filmed in Africaans and of course
Ungwatsi. It was released internationally in 1980. It took three years before it was released in
the United States dubbed into English. It became a surprising run away smash hit. With almost no
promotion, it became a hit through word of mouth. Comments like "A Coke bottle from the sky,"
entered our vocabulary and you basically had to go see the movie to be able to conduct a coctail
Successful movies mean sequels. In 1989 Gods Must Be Crazy II was released. Sequels have
a problem in that the basic story of naive bushman intetacting with so called civilization had
been pretty well used up by the first movie. So in the second movie the naive person was the New
York attorney stuck in the African bush, with the bushman on his home ground.
There were persistent rumors that the producers of the original movies were at least contemplating
making a Gods Must Be Crazy III. After N!xau's death the South African producers announced that
any plans about their doing a Gods Must Be Crazy III were dropped.
Then things get more strange.
The Gods Must Be Crazy movies were quite popular in Asia. After a few years the Hong Kong
director Billy Chan hired N!xau to be in another movie, basically a take off of the originals. He
had previously made a movie called Mr. Vampire that had met with some success. He decided
to combine his vampire story with the Gods Must Be Crazy concept.
In the credits at the end of the movie Jamie Uys is listed as a "production consultant." The
narrator is listed as the same one as in the African films. I did not think that this was true.
I thought that this was purely an independant effort. However, I am now told by Mimosa Films
that he did indeed allow his name to be used as a production consultant. I do not know if this
actually meant that he did some consulting or if he just loaned them his name. I'd guess that
he helped with the scenes filmed in South Africa and the surrounding countries.
The movie production company that produced did not use the Gods Must Be Crazy name. It was an
entirely separate movie called Crazy Safari It remained Crazy Safari until
after it's theatrical run (which was only for a few days). Some time later (years I think) it
was converted to tape, and then some marketing type decided to call it Gods Must Be Crazy
III. This was illegal as the name is copyrighted by the original producers of the first
Two more sequels follow:Crazy Hong Kong (Easily the best of the Chinese movies) and
The Gods Must be Funny in China (the worst of the bunch). These were likewise promoted
at some later time using the Gods Must Be Crazy name.
If you click on the title of the movie in the table below, it'll take you to a page on that
particular movie. I've attempted to find out what movies are available in the United States
as of today (today is the Last Revised date at the bottom of the page). These are old movies,
the first movie was released in 1981. Now they go into and out of production so you'll have to
look for yourself.
Movie Availability: (from Amazon)
In addition Amazon UK and Amazon Germany have VHS tapes of I & II.
A few years ago, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures produced I and II and a combined
package of I & II on DVD. It appears that new copies these are all sold out, and the used copies
available are from this batch. Crazy Hong Kong has been
reproduced by a Canadian company and seems to be available. A few years ago I was able to find
Crazy Safari, Crazy Hong Kong, and The Gods Must Be Funny in China
available from a company in India. The disks were of poor quality but at least made the films
available. I imported them until they stoped selling them. I have not been
able to find anyone who has put them back into production. I have not been able to determine the
copyright status of these films so I am not going to produce them. It is clear that Mimosa Films
doesn't want them called anything that infringes on their copyrighted name of
"Gods Must Be Crazy".
The South African Producers
The South African movie producing company that owns the rights to The Gods Must Be
Crazy movies is named
Mimosa Films. in addition to The Gods Must Be
Crazy they also own the rest of Jamie Uys films. Their web site describes all of
his movies and is quite interesting.
I'm just doing this site for my own amusement and because I'm somewhat of a Gods Must Be
Crazy nut. If you have any more information that you think should be on this site, please
let me know using the e-mail address below. You will need to replace the (at) with the @
character. I put (at) there because I don't want the programs that automatically scan the web
looking for addresses to find me and send me more junk mail.
© www.GodsMustBeCrazy.com, August 26, 2004; Last Revised March 10, 2012