What We Are Reading Today: Elephant by Errol Fuller

Updated 02 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Elephant by Errol Fuller

  • Fuller traces the evolution of these majestic animals from prehistoric mammoths

Elephants are among the most beloved of all creatures. Their behavior can seem almost human, from their complex social interactions to their need to mourn their dead. They are also among the most persecuted of animals, subjected to untold cruelty at the hands of humans through the ages. In this stunningly illustrated book, Errol Fuller provides a rich and moving portrait of elephants, exploring their natural history, the legends that have grown up around them, their unique place in art and literature, and their urgent need for protection, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Fuller traces the evolution of these majestic animals from prehistoric mammoths and mastodons to today’s African and Asian elephants, and looks at their behavior, herd dynamics, and social life. 

He examines the role of elephants in cultures around the world, from folklore and fine art to the exploitation of elephants as war machines and circus animals. Fuller also discusses the importance of conservation, warning that continued poaching and habitat degradation could send these iconic animals the way of the dodo.


‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging. (Supplied)
Updated 23 October 2019

‘It Must Be Heaven’: Elia Suleiman’s sardonic take on the world

MUMBAI: Elia Suleiman’s “It Must Be Heaven,” which was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival, is pure cinema. Like his earlier works, here too the Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, this time to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. Suleiman, who plays the lead role as himself, explores identity, nationality and belonging.

He says people worldwide now live in fear amid global geopolitical tensions. Today, checkpoints are just about everywhere: In airports, shopping malls, cinemas, highways — the list is endless.

“It Must Be Heaven” was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. (Supplied) 

Suleiman’s earlier features, such as “Chronicle of a Disappearance” and “Divine Intervention,” showed us everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territories. This time, it is Paris and New York. 

The first scene is hilarious, with a bishop trying to enter a church with his followers. The gatekeeper on the other side of the heavy wooden door is probably too intoxicated and refuses to let the priest in, leading to a comical situation. Suleiman’s life in Nazareth is filled with such incidents — snippets that have been strung together to tell us of tension in society. Neighbors turn out to be selfish, and only generous when they know they are being watched. 

The Palestinian director uses wit, sarcasm and minimalism, to present a series of vignettes that are funny but also a powerful lambast of the world we live in. (Supplied)

In Paris, the cafes along the grand boulevards, and the young women who pass by, are typical of France’s capital. But a cut to Bastille Day, with tanks rolling by in a show of strength, jolts us back to harsh reality. In New York, Suleiman’s cab driver is excited at driving a Palestinian. 

The film has an interesting way of storytelling. The scenes begin as observational shots, but the camera quickly changes positions to show Suleiman watching from the other side of the room or a street. The camera then returns to where it first stood, and this back-and-forth movement is delightfully engaging.

The framing is so perfect, and the colors so bright and beautiful, that each scene looks magical. And as the director looks on at all this with his usual deadpan expression, a sardonic twitch at the corner of his mouth, we know all this is but illusion. There is bitter truth ahead!