“Cane Toads” (1988) is a documentary writen and directed
by Mark Lewis that explores the impact and history of the Cane Toad
. The filmmaker identified the many opinions towards the toads and managed to contrast them effectively.
The conflict presented in the film is the spread of the feral toad and the effects it is having on native Australia. The characters include scientists who speak testament to the dramatic effects the toads are having on native wildlife and habitat, people who remember when the cane toads were bigger than shovel heads, a little girl who has the toads as pets, a man who goes out of his way to kill the buggers, and officials shedding light on the abuse of the cane toad as a narcotic.
The film’s dramatic curve follows the introduction-rising action-climax-conclusion model. The cane toads are built up first by a bit of history, then by the hopes that the people had for them and their utter failure to realize those hopes, building with the drastic out of control nature of the beast. The climax explores the disastrous consequences of the animals introduction into the Australian climate. The conclusion illustrates what measures are being taken to stop the toad as well as what the future of the partnership between the Land Down Under and the accused Cane Toad.
To keep the conflict continuous and elevating throughout the story the filmmakers did not reveal what the toad actually did to Australia all at once. They built up their character (the toad’s character) until we were amused by the cause and effect relationship the innocent amphibians had on the people and places around them. The human characters also played a part in the humour in the film; the girl keeping her ‘dollies’, the man talking about watching the frogs mating, and the unusual observations of toads engaging in amplexus with old road-kill toads and eating ping pong balls and such.
I found it to be very informative as well as entertaining.