The Eternal Return

Elan Gamaker (Producer), Michelle Williams Gamaker (Artist)

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products


The Eternal Return, posits a now-struggling Sabu in 1952 as he supports his family by performing – once more with a troupe of elephants – in Tom Arnold’s Christmas Circus in Haringey Arena. With the inclusion of British Pathé footage of circuses in 1950s and 60s Britain and their bizarre parading of tame beasts as ‘exotic entertainment’, the film shows the indignity Sabu felt by being similarly deployed. The film thus explores the notion of success in the absence of agency as it imagines the resentment of an individual for whom the price of prosperity was to be typecast.
In Sabu’s case, this was the conflation of his background and his career that imposed a seemingly inescapable relationship with elephants; the animals recur throughout his filmography. It also highlights how, in spite of his extraordinary fame, Sabu was always the sidekick and never the lead or love interest.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTintype Gallery
Media of outputFilm
Size17 min
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019

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