The man who filmed stone age so­ci­ety

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Books -

hun­dred years pre­vi­ously to pro­vide milk, meat, and pulling power for mil­i­tary gar­risons, were ram­pag­ing in enor­mous herds.

At­ten­bor­ough and his en­tourage — only two in those days: one cam­era­man and a sound recordist — were given lessons on how to avoid death if ven­tur­ing out with no gun. Best chance is to climb a tree. Sec­ond best is to lie down and hope they jump over you. Third… well there is no third. These alien beasts have now been com­pletely ex­ter­mi­nated in the name of the con­ser­va­tion of in­dige­nous mam­mals. And Nourlangie it­self, in­stead of be­ing a big-game shoot­ing cen­tre, is now part of the Kakadu Na­tional Park.

Search­ing out, as he al­ways did, the tra­di­tional ways of liv­ing, At­ten­bor­ough goes walk­a­bout with an abo­rig­i­nal man, Char­lie, of the Wal­biri peo­ple. On a ridge, Char­lie chooses a boulder and flakes it with a peb­ble. He pro­ceeds to turn this blade into a knife by cook­ing up some spinifex grass dust in a bon­fire and mould­ing a han­dle. It is rem­i­nis­cent of the mak­ing of the stone axe in New Guinea.

This is an ex­am­ple of how At­ten­bor­ough tells a story.

He neatly opens and closes with Stone Age tool fabri­ca­tion. In be­tween these bookends, each chap­ter is it­self a quest: a search for some­thing or some­one rare. With his usual charm and gen­eros­ity, At­ten­bor­ough al­lows us along for the ride.

Pic­ture: PA

The book brings us on a jour­ney with At­ten­bor­ough in the early 1960s, when his crew con­sisted of only two peo­ple, a cam­era­man and sound recordist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.