Animals Are Beautiful People

CORNY as it is, animal anthropomorphism is pretty hard to resist. And in ''Animals Are Beautiful People,'' Jamie Uys has accompanied a series of cute voice -over observations about various desert creatures with footage that is sufficiently fascinating to dispense with any sense of silliness. Mr. Uys, the South African director of ''The Gods Must Be Crazy,'' made this documentary several years earlier and gives it a naive charm very like that of his big hit. He is not beyond occasionally manipulating the footage to achieve this, but the result is still an engaging naturalism. ''Animals Are Beautiful People,'' which opens t oday at the 57th Street Playhouse, includes a few embarrassing scenes in which African tribesmen, seen in their native habitat, are described in much the same terms Mr. Uys uses for hedgehogs, lizards, hyenas and the film's various other stars. However, th is film's prevailing spirit, like that of ''The Gods Must Be Crazy,'' is more innocent than objectionable. ''Animals Are Beautiful People'' should particularly delight children, provided they can withstand its very infrequent carcass shots, or its undisguised awareness that animals battling a harsh, forbidding climate may very well die. Most of the film is cheery in the extreme, and filled with amazing bits of information. We learn, for instance, that there is a desert plant that has adapted to the absence of bees by developing a smell like rotting meat; that way, it can be sure of being pollinated by attracting flies. There's the big fish that has a thousand tiny babies, and can swallow them at any sign of impending danger. There's the bird that seals its mate in a tree trunk for several months, until the chicks are hatched and able to fend for themselves; Mr. Uys takes care to indicate how they deal with sanitation problems during that interval. There's even a mother who protects her ducklings from a hyena by doing ''a pathetic drowning duck act, with all the cries for help and all the glub -glubs the scene calls for.'' Among Mr. Uys's more visually striking scenes is one in which a baby wart hog is separated from its mother, and then tries to sidle up to v arious other prospective parents; it's so ugly that it winds up with only a tree trunk for company. There is also a lengthy sequence showing what happens when the fruit on a particular kind of tree becomes ripe enough to ferment after falling to the ground , and prompts a festival of gluttony. This is the perfect film for anyone who's interested in seeing a baboon with a hangover. Creature Feature ANIMALS ARE BEAUTIFUL, written, produced, directed, filmed and edited by Jamie Uys; narrated by Paddy O'Byrne; r eleased by Warner Brothers Classics. At 57th Street Playhouse, 110 West 57th Street. A humorous documentary looking at the animal life over the course of a year that gather around an oasis situated in a desert in Eastern Africa. Highlights of this being t he period when the fruit from the trees surrounding the water hole. Fall into the water and ferment. The animals that drink there end up being rather intoxicated, including the hangover the following morning. All together a good, if now a bit dated, piece of documentary making. The documentary covers all aspects of life around the water hole as the waters change from being in almost flood like conditions. To the water drying up into a large muddy puddle during the dry season. The animals that are featured b eing as diverse as warthogs, elephants, tortoises and monkeys. The cinematography is excellent considering the conditions endured and the length of time spent in the field shooting the footage. The resultant film is refreshingly devoid of computer and othe r special effects, instead relying on the editing and narration to convey events to the audience.

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