Film ID:
YFA 1473

GUM ARABIC

1977

Visitor Tabs

Description

This film comprehensively documents the production of Rowntree's Fruit Gums, predominantly focusing on the cultivation of its main ingredient - Gum Arabic. Gum Arabic is mainly produced in Sudan (where the Acacia Senegal tree grows), and the filmmaker follows a Sudanese family embarking on a new business venture that eventually will lead to them to producing Gum Arabic for Rowntree's factory in York.

Title - Forest Department presents.

Title - Gum Arabic.

Title - Forestry series film no 2.

Title - Photographed & Directed by Gadalla.

The film opens with a shot of a map of Sudan, and the voice over describes that Sudan is the biggest producer of Gum Arabic, supplying nearly 92% of the world's output. There are then shots of the Acacia Senegal tree growing in the wild planes of Sudan. Native Sudanese people pick the amber coloured Acacia gum from the trees, collecting large amounts in baskets. The voiceover states that it is hard work and 'that they deserve a little time off to enjoy their coffee.' The film then focuses on a man called Mohammed as he goes about setting up his own Gum Arabic crop.

In the following sequence, the filmmaker captures Mohammed meeting a forest officer who, according to the voice over, gave him some Accacia Senegal seeds to start his business. In Mohammed's dry fields, the forest officer tells him how to plant the seeds effectively. There are then shots of Mohammed being shown how to tap a gum tree effectively using a sharp axe. There are then several shots that show Mohamed and his family the clearing a field so the trees can grow, as this happens the voice over states that UK is the biggest purchaser of Gum Arabic.

A young boy chases goats away from the field, and Mohammed then builds a fence made of branches to keep goats away. A fade transition signals the passing of time and the voice over states that seven years have gone by; Mohamed's trees are now ready to be tapped. A sequence shows Mohammed and his family tapping the tree: this process involves stripping away the tree's bark with an axe and waiting for the gum run out.

Mohammed's son drives a truck full of gum Arabic to Elobuyo market. Upon arrival, they unload their goods in their allocated space and are handed an auction ticket. The voice over describes the auctioning process, and asserts that government regulations ensure that the farmers receive a fair pay for their labour. The filmmaker then captures the entirety of the auctioning process; a buyer inspect the gum, bid on their desired lot, weigh the gum, and once this process is finished Mohamed's son receives payment for his crop.

A large group of women wearing multi-coloured fabrics sieve the gum, filtering out any pieces they deem to be of a low quality, and while this process takes place, the voice over describes how the recent development of railways has re-stimulated the production of Gum Arabic in Sudan. During this sequence there are excellent slow motion shot which accentuate the skill and speed of the women. The filmmaker captures various shots of the good quality gum being packed off ready for export.

The next sequence takes place in England, and the opening shots show the gum being hoisted into the upper levels of Rowntree's confectionary factory in York. The voice over then describes how the gum is filtered and melted down using boiling water, and there are shots which depict this process taking place using large industrial machinery. Flavourings and colourings are then added to the melted gum and the voice over emphasises that the factories in York take every step necessary to ensure that the sweets are of the highest possible standard. The mixtures are then poured by a machine into plastic moulds to form the sweets. The sweets are then separated from the moulds and cleaned to produce the final product. The voice over then revels in the journey of the Gum Arabic, which has been transformed from the tapping's of the Acacia Senegal tree to sweets that are enjoyed people all over the globe.

The sweets are then packaged by machines and the final product - Rowntree's Fruit Gums - is captured by the filmmaker. Following this there a multitude of shots that show the other purposes of Gum Arabic, which predominately involve the production of various adhesives. The final shots return to Sudan to show Mohammed and his family.

Title - End