Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (Famous Lasky Corp., 1927) is a film about a poor farmer in Siam (Thailand) and his daily struggle for survival in the jungle. The film would most likely have been forgotten today except that its two directors, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack , collaborated again six years later to make the blockbuster film King Kong (1933).
In the directors' own words, Chang is a "melodrama with man, the jungle, and wild animals as its cast." Kru, the farmer who stars in the film, battled leopards, tigers, and even a herd of elephants, which pose a constant threat to his livelihood. As filmmakers, Cooper and Schoedsack attempted to capture real life with their cameras, though this often required them to stage events that had not been captured adequately on film. The danger was real to all the people and animals involved. Tigers, leopards, and bears are routinely slaughtered on camera, while the film's climax shows Kru's house demolished by a stampeding elephant. Nevertheless, the result is a riveting account of one man's struggle against nature, comparable to Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North. Chang was nominated for the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Production at the first Academy Awards in 1929, the only year when that award was presented.
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