The African

1983 _ Charlotte wants to open a new holiday resort in Central Africa. Once there, she meets up with her ex-husband, who's determined to foil her plans. The film takes us on a high-speed chase across pygmy territory, amongst the elephants and poachers.
Catherine Deneuve et Philippe Noiret dans L'Africain de Philippe de Broca

To escape his hectic life in Paris, plagued by marital strife and other problems, Victor has moved to Central Africa. He lives on a tumbledown houseboat, which also serves as a shop. He leads a quiet life tending his vegetable patch and helping out the locals with his old plane. These include Patterson, in charge of conservation, Bakou, his friend, and Joséphine, his partner.

Then his wife Charlotte arrives, along with her assistant Planchet. She has come up with a plan to build a holiday resort for home-sick middle-class French people in the region. In the interests of protecting the natural habitat, as well as his own peace and quiet, Victor is vehemently against the project, despite being initially moved by seeing Charlotte again. He does agree to take Charlotte and Planchet to the Great Lakes, but only to abandon them in the middle of the bush!

The two executives are picked up by Poulakis, a dreadful ivory trafficker who thinks nothing of slaying whole troops of elephants. Naturally, he is not a fan of Charlotte’s project. But Victor intervenes: not so much to help Charlotte (despite finding an excuse not to sign the divorce papers she just happened to have in her bag), but more to protect the elephants.

He finds Charlotte, dumped by Poulakis, and then, along with Bako, the three set off to track down the poacher, who is keeping Planchet hostage. After a string of risky adventures taking them into the heart of pygmy lands, they manage to put Poulakis and his men out of operation.

The country and its people have won Charlotte over, and she abandons her money-making plans. She and the relieved Planchet head back to Paris, but before they do, Charlotte suggests to Victor that they have a child together, if he ever happens to come to Paris.

 

Production: Renn Productions
Producer: Claude Berri.
Executive producer: Pierre Grunstein.
Screenplay: Gérard Brach et Philippe de Broca.
Director of photography: Jean Penzer.
Cameraman: Yves Agostini assisted by Michel Coteret and Éric Vallée.
Second crew cameraman : Guy Delattre.
Editing: Henri Lanoë assisted by Sylvie Pontoizeau and Philippe Wampfler.
Music: Georges Delerue.
Songs:  « Jambo Bwana » by the group Them Mushrooms ; « Summertime » by George and Iva Gershwin.
Sound technician: Jean Labussière assisted by Pierre Davoust.
Mixing: Jacques Maumont.
Sound effects: Daniel Couteau.
Doublage : Gilbert Crozet.
Sets: François de Lamothe assisted by Jean-Claude Bourdin.
Props: René Albouze.
Costumes : Sylvie Gautrelet, Ursula Rodel (for Catherine Deneuve).
Dresser: Christianne Fageol for Catherine Deneuve, Yvette Bonnay for Philippe Noiret.
Make-up: Jackie Reynal.
Hairdresser: Jean-Pierre Berroyer.
Casting : Margot Capelier.
Production manager: Michel Nicolini.
Studio managers: Jean-Louis Godfroy, Véronique Colucci.
Assistant directors: Bernard Bolzinger, Frederic Blum, Aimable Sabushi.
Script supervisor: Hélène Sébillotte.
Photographer: Georges Pierre.
Press agents: Josée Bénabent-Loiseau, Jean-Pierre Vincent.
Stunts: Daniel Vérité.
Stuntmen: Patrick Cauderlier, Charles Cattiez, Pierre Gernez.
Conseiller aviation : Marc Epstein.
Plane stunts: Tony Dyer, Tony Abercrombie Dick, Marc Epstein.
Conseiller animaux : Tor Allan.
Second crew animal director : Simon Trevor.

 

Cast

Catherine Deneuve : Charlotte
Philippe Noiret : Victor
Jean-François Balmer : Paul Planchet
Jacques François : Patterson
Joseph Momo : Bako
Vivian Reed : Eugénie
Jean Benguigui : Poulakis
Gordon Heath : le ministre
Raymond Aquilon : le commandant
Gisèle Charpentier : la matrone
Pierre Michael : le PDG
Maxime Dufeu : un cadre

 

Running time: 100 minutes
Working title: Sur la piste des éléphants.
Filmed: 23 August – 14 December 1982.
Location: Kenya and Zaire.
Distribution : A.M.L.F.
Release in Paris: 2 March 1983.
Box office: 457 305 tickets sold in 11 weeks in 44 Paris cinemas.