The crux of a documentary – The Hunters by John Marshal

The Hunters by John Marshal

This documentary, “The Hunters” by the anthropologist John Marshall, on the people of the Dobe Ju’hoansi, begins by locating their area in the Kalahari Desert which is surrounded by dry and vast lands, with scarce sources for water, which comes from the little rainfall in the winter, or some from the water holes that hold rain from previous seasons. The documentary shows how the tribe interacts with each other, and how they divide work and labor according to gender.

The females will dig up wild roots, nuts, and look for berries and other vegetarian contents in the food, while men go out for hunting. The woman provides an extra source of food for the family. Sometimes, the men will come back with no meat because they must hunt using bows, which is a difficult technique of hunting. The tribe makes their own bows and arrows and dips their tips in the poison for an easier kill.  The people of the tribe pay close attention to their surroundings and watch the birds for certain signs. The Ju/’hoansi people are a good-natured, superstitious, and innovative community who have survived living in fear and unity with their land.

The documentary basically consisted of a hunting trip that four men made after having no meat to eat for so many days. The hunters started the journey, searching for the animals to hunt in the forest and surrounding areas. A major part of the film’s ending is the hunters searching for a giraffe that they shot. Finally, the hunters found the giraffe, but they realized that she still had a lot of fight in her and they had to try everything they could to control and bring her down. The hunters finally killed the giraffe and cut her up in pieces to transport her back to their village. The hunters did not waste anything from that giraffe and used every part of her for something. When the hunters returned, the meat was distributed to all the families.

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In the documentary, we saw that all the people had special roles to fulfill, and they did so much more than their assigned tasks. The men of the tribe searched for the food, and so did the women. This division of labor helps them in feeding their families. The women start working from dusk to dawn at a young age, and the physical work of digging and gathering makes them strong and graceful. Young children learn their roles. The boys learn to hunt, by practicing with their tools, spears, and arrows and by hitting small insects as beetles or birds. The practice would help them in the future when they become strong and go hunting with the older men in the community. The hunting makes a boy feel more like a man as he feels powerful. All the villagers worked together, and after catching and skinning the food, it was shared. There is so much they do and go through on their routine days that most people from developed countries would not be able to handle.

Learning to hunt involves learning the surrounding areas around the village and which direction to go in search of the prey to hunt and then how to come back home. The hunters get to know the surroundings well while they travel for hunting purposes, so they can track the animals and move to places where water sources could be found. The either track the feces of the animals or follow their footprints. Using techniques of the hunting tools, the hunter could tell whether their poisoned spears have hit the target or not. Their hunting techniques were a combination of strategical tactics and spirituality.

The documentary is related to the beliefs and hunting strategies of the Dobe Ju’Hoansi society. The way they communicated through their language, which the narrator also spoke once. While witnessing the happenings in the tribe, John Marshall had to learn the language and the values, traditions, and customs shared among the people. While watching the documentary and analyzing the characters, I want to know what signs the hunters follow while hunting and returning home? How often they run into another civilization and how they react? I also want to see how they would react if they see the American lifestyle- would they be interested to see our luxurious lives and artificially created jungles?

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