Tribe – **1/2

Posted: November 13, 2013 in 2005, Documentary, TV series, UK

At my local library: the BBC/Discovery Channel series Tribe! 

I am very skeptical about any tv show that takes a camera team into remote ‘unknown’ territories, but there’s something trustworthy about this program. Bruce Parry is the very likable guide in this documentary series. He goes to several tribes around the world to learn more about their ways of life. And he does so by spending a month in their village, not only observing their culture, but also participating in their customs. He eats their food and joins them in their festivals.

I personally think a lot is scripted and the scenes are directed like the episodes of any other reality tv show.  It isn’t fake and I don’t think they make people reenact scenes so it looks  better on the screen. But I do think there is manipulation. That’s okay. It’s not disrespectful. In the end it’s a tv show and it should entertain. He may have spent a month with the tribes, but I guess he did that before the camera crew joined and filmed enough material to fill an hour per episode.

However, not every episode is as compelling. The introducing episode takes him to northeastern India where he lives with the remote Himalayan Adi people who eat a lot of rat. It’s like an episode of bizarre foods. More fascinating are the Suri people in Ethiopia who prepare for a stick fighting festival. The most likable, funny and exciting encounter is with the Kombai people in Papoea who take him hunting. It’s the episode that looks enacted the most, but it ironically also feels the most genuine. The most interesting is perhaps the visit to the Darhad nomads in Mongolia. It’s definitively the most cinematographic episode. (those landscapes!) Two episodes focus more on Parry than on the tribes and that’s a bit of a shame. On both occasions he experiences a hallucinating trip. A strong one with the Babongo bush people in Gabon and a boring one with Sanema in the Venezuelan Amazone.

Damn, all episodes are on youtube. Apart from the best one.

Actually, episode 3 is online too (and it is more elaborate!):

an interesting article about the show:

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