The African Queen

The 1951 film, The African Queen, is both a romance and an adventure film. It tells the story of Rosie, a Methodist missionary working with her brother in Africa, and Charlie, a miner and owner of a steamboat. The film takes place during World War II, and the story begins when the Germans attack Rosie’s African village, capture the natives, and burn the village down to the ground. Soon after the attack Rosie’s brother dies of shock, so when Charlie finds Rosie, they agree to travel together down the river to the ocean. Early on in their trip, Rosie develops a crazy scheme to bomb a German ship with self-built torpedoes. As the journey begins, the main characters are always at odds, especially when Rosie dumps all of Charlie’s gin overboard. However, during their trip on the dangerous river, traveling through white waters, alligator-infested swamps, and past German outposts, the two fell in love. The film was likely created for entertainment value, with the two movie star leads of Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. However, it contains additional educational information, which goes beyond simple entertainment.
For example, the movie also addresses key historical and geographical elements. First, the African natives in the movie are stereotyped as unintelligent and savage when they are shown mumbling along to church songs and fighting over the end of a dropped cigar. When the Germans invade, they put up little to no fight. This shows why it was so easy for advanced countries, like Germany to capture slaves from Africa. Second, each of the common images of Africa that were discussed in class was portrayed in the film.
Images of conflict were quite apparent, such as the brawl over a cigar and the fires after the German invasion. The film was shot on location in Africa, so the images of wildlife were amazing – alligators, hippos, giraffes, lions, elephants, etc. Finally, native people’s clothing, homes, and the condition of the church’s organ all depicted the...