Promotional material called it an actual documentary; most viewers immediately recognized the hoax. I particularly enjoy how the lone cameraman appears in some scenes, filming the action. Apart from being an obvious fake, it is-- even for 1930-- racist af.

Ingagi (Kinyarwanda for "gorilla"), directed by William S. Campbell, follows its American explorers into "darkest Africa" where "no white man has been before" (Yeah, I didn't see that coming, either) and exploits prurience and colonial racist (and racist colonial) attitudes. It captures a regrettable but influential world-view, and influenced later films, including King Kong.

The filmmakers stitched together footage genuine, staged, and zoological (as in, much of it was filmed in an actual zoo). The authentic African content mostly comes, without permission, from Lady Grace Mackenzie's 1915 documentary, Heart of Africa. Her son sued. It clashes with the staged footage, including the newly-discovered "tortadillo." Very clearly a turtle with appendages glued onto it, the beast presages slurpasaurs yet to come.

Our brave explorers seek an obscure tribe that worships a gorilla-god. The gorillas arrive courtesy of actual gorillas along with orangutans and American actors in costumes. Orangutans, of course, don't live in Africa. Neither, typically, do American actors.

The film culminates with ludicrous depictions of tribal rituals. Here we see the real appeal for the pre-Hayes Code audience: female nudity, and the implication that tribal women, sacrificed to "Ingagi," are having sex with and children by the great apes.

Ingagi, legally forced to withdraw any claim that it was a genuine documentary, disappeared from theatres. It was little-seen again until this century. Like the better-made but also offensive Trader Horn, it captures the Africa that much of western culture then imagined, echoes of distorted colonial accounts written generations earlier. I recommend it only to film and cultural historians, and masochists.

300 words