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A charming, oddball documentary that charts the progress of an invasive
species of Central American toad across Northern Australia and the
experiences of the townspeople it encounters along the way.
Introduced to Queensland in the 1930s in an attempt to alleviate the
blight of the cane beetle which was ravaging the crops of the regions'
sugar cane farmers; the cane toad, in a manner all too painfully
predictable, manifestly failed to live up to its billing as miracle
cure for the farmers' ills, but rapidly became a fast spreading pest in
its own right.
Mark Lewis's film traces the history behind the original introduction,
and then follows the invading force, mile by mile, and year by year, in
its unstoppable march across the continent, whilst intercutting the
stories of a cross-section of experts, officials, and shall we say...
"locals" caught up in its path.
If all this sounds like a job for the David Attenborough, that's
understandable, but you'd be missing the point. There is real
environmental science to be learned here, to be sure, but Cane Toads:
The Conquest treads this ground lightly, offering an easily digestible
sprinkling of facts that could comfortably be crammed into a fifteen
minute PowerPoint session. What it delivers in spades is an
understated, blackly comic mix of horror parody and absurdist social
docu-drama as we meet the wonderful parade of folks who paint them,
stuff them, pet them, curse them with Old Testament wrath and launch
them from home made rockets!
Sometimes fascinating, and frequently funny, this is less a film of
amphibious analysis and more an affectionate portrait of Australians in
all their eccentric glory.
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