Mondo Cane (1962)

Mondo Cane
Directed by Paolo Cavera, Gualtiero Jacopetti, and Franco Prosperi
Written by Paolo Cavera and Gualtiero Jacopetti
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

“What we don’t understand we can make mean anything.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

Time and experience have made this shockumentary much less shocking.

This film contrasts “bizarre” behavior of primitive tribes with equally “bizarre” behavior of Western Europeans.  The ultimate message seems to be that humans are pretty disgusting.

Much of the primitive footage comes from Papua New Guinea, where I lived for three years.  The customs are indeed very different from our own but familiarity has made the people seem like just folks doing things the way they have always been done.  One of the problems that I have with the film is that the narrative provides a lot of the shocks.  The footage allows for a number of interpretations of which the film makers select the most “disgusting”.

I definitely could have died without seeing this once, let alone twice.

Mondo Cane was nominated for Best Music, Original Song for the song “More.”


Frank Sinatra sings “More”- audio only

6 thoughts on “Mondo Cane (1962)

  1. Yeah, I’m pretty much in agreement. A lot of this seemed like pointing at exotic things and patting the civilized world on the back for having different traditions. It’s voyeurism for its own sake, and that doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me.

    • There is no good reason for its inclusion on The List. Sure it might have started a new trend in movies – a trend that grew increasingly deplorable with time.

  2. What an odd coincidence. I watched Mondo Cane yesterday afternoon. I’ve never seen it before though I have seen a bunch of similar films, like Mondo Balordo, Primitive Love, Faces of Death and The Wonderful World of Jayne Mansfield.

    Despite all the skinned dogs and dying sea turtles and pig slaughtering, the most notable thing is the sexism and the racism of the narration. “Though the Chinaman is drunk, lazy and devious, he sure knows how to throw a party for his dying relatives to encourage them to die faster and stop eating all his rice and shark fins!” Which is not an exact quite, but it gives an idea of what to expect.

  3. I share your sentiment on this movie. It did not win me over. Maybe in its day it had a stronger power, today it is just…odd.
    Since I watched it I have noticed how big its impact it has had on popular culture. Not sure if that is a good thing.
    Papua must have been an interesting place.

    • Papua New Guinea was a very interesting place. I just wish it hadn’t also been so scary. The security precautions against violent crime made us feel like we were in jail a lot of the time.

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