1. INTRODUCTIONEvery society has its own mythology of being, a way of understanding and sharingexperiences that would otherwise remain untold. The validity of such tales is not as importantas the means of expression. In this vein, many ethnographic films attempt to find a negotiatedmeans of representing cultural myths in a manner that is authentic. This authenticity,however, is localised in the negotiated meaning between the subject, the filmmaker, and theaudience (Woodward, 1997:2). This implies a certain degree of conversion from one culturalto another; a mythical transformation of meaning that seeks to bridge the gap between the“other” and us. This transcendence is never neutral in its ability to assign agency, instead,there are cultural signifiers that are in operation that no only create difference, but assign power and knowledge.The representation of the Bushman
has been mythologised through film. Thecommodification of the Bushman image is embedded with the discourse of film and itsability to re-present reality, this results in the spectator’s understanding being rooted in thefilmmakers ability to convert cultural practices onto celluloid. It is this process, from theempirical to artistic form, that allows for intervention of the part of the filmmaker. Anintervention that seeks to assert the Western tradition that the visual is synonymous withknowledge (Fabian
Gordon, 2002).This essay will critically discuss the representation of !Xo Bushman mythology in
The Great Dance: A Hunter’s Tale.
This representation is will be analysed in terms of how documentarydiscourse functions in the film to represent the metaphysical
world-view of the Bushmanand their myth of transformation and being. This will be achieved by anaylsing how thestylistic conventions employed in the film act as a nexus between Western understanding andBushman mythology.
“Bushman” has been used througout to denoted the !Xo San tribe of the Kalahari in South African.
The use of term “metaphysical” is used to describe a understanding of the world that localises meaninginferred from the physical world to a force or power that cannot be empirically understood directly.