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Kingdom of Crabs

Australia, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Glen Carruthers, Jan Aldenhoven

Christmas Island, a speck in the Indian Ocean, is an Australian Territory which was not invaded by humans until 100 years ago. For most of that time, it was attacked by phosphate mining companies which destroyed a quarter of the island's rainforest covering, leaving it open to the ravages of erosion by salt, wind and storms.

This is the background to Kingdom of Crabs, the first film by husband and wife team of Glen Carruthers and Jan Alderhoven of NSW, which shows the island's main inhabitants, 100 million red land-crabs, in their journey from their rainforest home to cast their young into the sea. This is a perilous journey, especially when they encounter human inhabitants. The film also captures the rare spectacle of waves of tiny youngsters returning from the sea,

After shooting the film over three months from November 1987, the two filmmakers had considerable input over all stages of production, including editing, writing the commentary (Jan Alderhoven) and even suggesting concepts for the music. The result is an integrated effort, combining stunning photography with an intelligent overall approach which makes viewing a fascinating and unforgettable experience.

There is an unfortunate post-script. At the very time the Melbourne Film Festival screens Kingdom of Crabs, the future of Christmas Island is being decided in Canberra. The choice is between a national park or another twenty year phosphate mining lease ... -(GH)

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