Cinema: The Vanishing Man

Flame and the Fire. "The beginning of the Space Age is the end of the Stone Age," says Explorer Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau. From treks to Africa, Brazil, Australia and New Guinea, Gaisseau has assembled a film less dramatic than his memorable The Sky Above—The Mud Below, but steadily fascinating as a record of a dozen or more primitive cultures not yet shouldered into the future by civilization.

The tone of his research is best expressed in the image of a befeathered savage dancer wearing sneakers. Without straining for irony, Gaisseau notes inching progress in New Guinea, where one happy warrior of the cannibalistic...