Written and Directed by Jean QUEYRAT
Edited by Françoise BERGER GARNAULT
Associate Producer Manuel CATTEAU
A production ZED
Original Music by Pierre ESTEVE
Once upon a time there was the elephant, the source of all dreams. Worshiped as a God, or massacred for its ivory. A royal mount and loyal companion. But also a mountain of meat, to be killed for food. A unique bond has been forged between man and the elephant, one steeped in fascination and mystery.
For the nomadic Tuaregs of Mali, the elephant has always been a beneficial animal that prefigured the rainy season. But with the drought, the nomads have become sedentary and are now struggling to save their crops. Their once peaceful relationship with the elephant is now embattled.
In Sri Lanka, the elephant participates in Buddhist rites. Every year, the most handsome animals parade before worshipers to celebrate the Buddha.
The elephant has also left its mark in the West as a war machine used by Hannibal during the Punic Wars, and as a special symbol in the Catholic religion. It is a pillar of the faith, supporting the church.
For many Africans, the elephant is a mountain of meat. Killing it is the only way to survive. And a way of proving one’s bravery. Among the Mandari in Sudan, like the Baka in Central Africa, killing an elephant is a major rite of passage into adulthood.
But in the nineteenth century, explorers started to massacre thousands of elephants in Africa. Because of the curse of the ivory, the elephant entered one of its darkest hours.
It has been protected since 1989. But it no longer has any direct contact with the local people. The only surviving link between man and elephant is among the Mnong, who live in Asia on the high plateaux in southern Vietnam. Because of their skills in capturing and training elephants, they are known as “ivory horsemen.” According to a Mnong legend, elephants have souls and are sacred, as they were once men.