Daar Doer in die Bosveld (South Africa, 1951)

This early South African film gives us a taste of what we would expect for director Jamie Uys’ internationally renowned The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Hans Botha is a lowly farmer with an old jalopy for a car. One in which he never would drive near the farmland. However, he is asked by his friend Koos to pick up the new town school mistress, Martie du Toit. Hans has a bit of a problem as he has never talked to a woman before. Nevertheless, Hans decides to make the journey and from the beginning, everything goes wrong.

Coming close to his destination, his car temporarily breaks down. However, he does make it to meet Martie but finds her so beautiful that he begins to get completely nervous. As they attempt to get going, Hans ends up driving in reverse. He flattens her hat. As if that’s not bad enough, he ends up forcing her to drive in a driverless car and she even ends up in the river. Calling him a barbarian, Martie and Hans eventually find themselves stuck where Martie gets a ride back without Hans. Realizing that he has fallen for her, Hans is determined to show Martie he is not a bad guy and attempt to win her heart.

Jamie Uys is one of South Africa’s most legendary filmmakers. His 1980 film The Gods Must Be Crazy is considered his most internationally recognized film. This 1951 film, Uys’ film debut, gives us a taste of what we would expect a full three decades later. The film, running at only 61 minutes, is a simple story of a farmer (played by the filmmaker himself) who is tasked with picking up a school teacher (played by Uys’ real-life wife Hettie) and after a series of misadventures, leads to the shy farmer falling in love.

This story would be the major subplot for The Gods Must Be Crazy, in which the main plot revolves around a Xhosa bushman sees a Coke bottle as a gift from God only to cause chaos among his tribe. The subplot involves Marius Weyers’ Andrew Steyn picking up Sandra Prinsloo’s Kate Thompson and going on a wacky series of misadventures and resulting in Steyn falling for Kate. Uys even does a certain version of a sigh, an “Ay ay ay ay ay ay!”, which Weyers would do in the later film.

There’s even a bit of a love rivalry in which we see a now confident Hans stand up to his old friend Koos and the two would throw each other in the river much to Martie’s chagrin. While there is a love rivalry between Weyers’ Steyn and Nic de Jager’s Jack, it doesn’t get as physical as we see in this film. This rivalry scene is similar to American slapstick physical comedy and it works very well here. Of course, the film’s pivotal moment has Hans finally telling Martie how he feels and does it in such a manner involving slapstick humor like Weyers would do three decades later.

Daar Doer in die Bosveld is a funny classic film that is a precursor of what we would get from legendary director Jamie Uys in his most renowned film, The Gods Must Be Crazy with Uys and his wife taking center stage. Slapstick humor and a 61-minute runtime makes this a fun classic from South Africa.

WFG RATING: B+

A Mimosa Films production. Director: Jamie Uys. Producer: Jamie Uys. Writer: Jamie Uys. Cinematography: Jamie Uys. Editing: Jamie Uys.

Cast: Jamie Uys, Hettie Uys, Jurg du Preez, Buks Joubert, Thomas Moema.

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