Mental Floss

A Film About A Big Tree, A Small Village, and A Very Old Man

Ransom Riggs

I wanted to follow my Late Movies post about amazing documentaries you can stream on Netflix with this -- another doc I just discovered. It's called The 100-Year-Old Chief and it's coming to a theater near you (at least, I hope it is). It's a film about a fascinating village of people on one of my favorite South Pacific islands -- one I just happened to visit a few years ago (I posted about it here). It's called Tanna, and just 100 years ago it had a reputation as an island where lived the fiercest of cannibal warriors. More recently it was famous for its cargo cults, some of the last remaining in the world, one of which to this day worships Prince Philip of the British royal family as its own savior. The island also has an amazing and terrifying volcano (there's a clip of it growling in the video below) and an absolutely humblingly large banyan tree, which according to our Lonely Planet guide at least, is one of the largest living organisms on Earth, having a canopy wider than a soccer field.

The film is about the tribe's chief, who at nearly 100 has seen the island go from a place where missionaries feared to tread to a burgeoning tourist mecca, and now is struggling to keep his people's way of life in tact. Here's a nice five minute clip, which also shows you that amazing banyan tree: