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All the time, people who would normally have very little to do with each other or who would never otherwise meet, are thrown together by circumstances outside of their control. This is particularly true in crises and other unpleasant predicaments people can find themselves in. These include everything from natural disasters, war, legal matters, accidents, transportation breakdowns, power outages, and crime. While people often don’t have control over these circumstances, they do have choices as to what they will do and how they will respond to the challenges that these difficulties create.

The African Queen
is a story of survival and how two mismatched people pull together. These people, Charlie and Rose, learn to accommodate each other and function together to achieve a goal: Get a boat down a treacherous jungle river. They are civilians who are caught in enemy territory at the beginning of World War I. Rose is a crisp, prim, and proper minister’s sister. Charlie is a irreverent, unsophisticated somewhat crude mechanic.

On the surface level The African Queen is a love story of sorts and a tale of revenge. Rose wants to blow up a German gunboat down river because the Germans destroyed the mission and her brother died after being overwhelmed by the strain of the loss and the conditions of the jungle. Charlie just wants to get out of harms way but reluctantly goes along with her even though he thinks what she wants to do is "crazy" and believes it’s impossible to get a boat down the river. In the course of this venture they become closer and develop affection for each other as they respond to hardship and danger.

In watching The African Queen it is important to realize that blowing up the gunboat is a story gimmick. This gives Charlie and Rose a challenging goal and a reason to do something dangerous. It also heightens the tension between Rose and Charlie, creating a situation that helps us to realize something important about the character and qualities of these two and how they learn to tolerate and get along with each other. What makes The African Queen such an important and popular movie is its fundamental story: Two people, who are basically strangers, learn to function together and care for each other as they contend with very unpleasant realities during a difficult, unwanted ordeal.

As so often happens, the two need each other because individually they do not have all that is necessary to respond to the challenge confronting them. Charlie is a "jack of all trades," clever with his hands, but not the smartest man in the jungle. Rose is a planner and able to see possibilities but does not have the skill or knowledge needed to get herself out of this desperate situation. Fortunately for Rose and Charlie they have the capacity to do something that is essential for survival: Cooperate.

One problem exists that has the potential for undermining their efforts. Charlie has a drinking problem, and at one point, early in the journey, gets pretty drunk. Rose does something which, under different circumstances, would be co-dependent and vindictive but in their situation is essential: She dumps the remaining alcohol overboard. We must remember that this is a life and death situation, and both of their survival depends on them being able to think clearly and respond appropriately. This is basically the same thing as taking the car keys away from someone who is drunk and refusing to let a surgeon perform an operation while under the influence.

The African Queen
is a good movie for people to see who are dealing with a difficult situation and need each other to get through it. Too often failure occurs because of inflexibility, dissension, and pride. The film affirms the importance of working together, learning to give and take, and maintaining respect for each other’s contributions.

Not rated by M.P.A.A.

Available from M.G.M./U.A Home Video
The booklet Coming To Terms With Being Victimized is a resource for those who have been overcome by some bad reality.  This booklet is only $2.50 plus shipping and handing.  Check it out NOW!
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Last modified: 18 March, 2009