Ossus Library Index Young Indy Index

OGANGA: GIVER AND TAKER OF LIFE

Directed by Simon Wincer (1999, Lucasfilm)
Starring Sean Patrick Flannery and Ronny Coutteure (guest cast)

A trek across Africa, to secure a grounded ship of British guns, encounters a boy orphaned by smallpox, and a genius German doctor.

 

 

5 stars

June 8th, 2000 on Video  
   

This was terrific.  Indy went from taking orders blindly to giving them, and then to questioning them.  We actually got to see his humanity, and the turning point in his life -as far as the War is concerned. 

Indy is serving in Africa, and as the episode opens, he is taking part in a battle to take a German encampment.  The episode reminds me of The Empire Strikes Back in that the climactic battle is at the beginning.  It follows that line, when it ends with sadness. 

As the German machine gun opens up on them, they are ordered to retreat.  But when the gun jams, Indy takes the initiative and bolts towards the opening.  His commanding officer is furious, but Indy takes out almost the entire German company with a sweep of the machine gun after he captures it.  It is a striking victory.  He is about to be court martialled by his commanding officer, but instead he gets a promotion from the General. 

It is obvious that Lieutenant Defense (Indy) and the Major will not be friends, ever.  But they are assigned to lead a mission to bring a shipment of machine guns from the other side of Africa back to their camp.  The boat has run aground, and instead of sending another boat around the Cape to their coast, this team is going to presumably drag the guns through the desert and forest. 

Again and again, Indy questions the orders he is given by his major.  When they find a lone boy survivor in a village ravaged by smallpox, he is ordered to leave the boy there, because he might be carrying the disease.  But his troops disobey his orders, and take the boy in.  Indy doesn't find out until later that night, however, and does not like being put in that kind of position. 

But the turning point comes the next morning, when the major again insists that the boy be left behind.  The troops refuse, because the boy is one of their people.  When the major is about to kill them all, Indy steps in and threatens to take over and kill the major.  Indy's sense of morals keeps him from being the perfect soldier.  His feelings keep him more human than the major, but may end up killing him. 

The soldiers have been dying since the journey began, and it keeps getting worse.  It turns out that the boy does not carry the disease, but the African jungle is full of other diseases, less obvious.  The major succumbs to one of them, eventually.  As they rent a steam boat, and travel down the river to the French town where the guns lie, the major dies. 

There is a period of recovery in this town, while they get the guns loaded.  But so many people are sick or dying that Indy requests some French soldiers to help them.  But he is refused.  He can't understand the attitude of the higher command. 

On the way back up the river, everybody is passed out when a nurse from an independent German hospital boards their boat, and guides them to shore.  A German doctor by the name of Albert Shweitzer fixes most of them up, though Remmy has to lose two toes. 

Indy spends much time in the hospital, and watches Shweitzer take care of so many patients.  He can't understand why the man would want to set up a hospital in the middle of nowhere.  But he sees the good this man is doing.  He can help out so much, and he is renowned along the forest as Oganga, which means the giver and taker of life. 

Unfortunately, the French government is kicking all Germans out of their territory, and Shweitzer is one of them, even though he has no part in the war.  Indy does all he can to save the hospital, but it is not enough. 

That is when he decides to transfer to the intelligence division.  He has to stop the war somehow. 

My favorite part is when Oganga, Indy and the chief of one tribe are sitting around the fire, and the chief asks how costly the war is.  He asks if there were two men killed, or more than ten men.  When he is answered yes to the latter, he is amazed.  The European nations must be rich, because it takes a lot of cattle to repay the lives of ten men.  Indy thinks the concept of putting a price on life is barbaric, but Shweitzer reminds him how barbaric the war in Europe is. 

Other than that, the music was also in great form.  All the battle scenes, through the marching and culminating in the tense scenes between Indy and the Major, were wonderfully scored.  It all fit in perfectly with the mood it was supposed to represent. 

The actors were really good, and Indy is starting to grow.  He is finally using his heart as well as his gun.  The directing was also good, but I think it was the writing that kept this going as good as it did.  Written by Frank Darabont, who wrote The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, it's no wonder that I liked this episode the best of all I've seen so far.

 

  Guest Cast: Isaach De Bankole as Barthelemy Boganda
Fredrich Von Thun as Albert Schweitzer
 
   

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