This hippie parable, co-written and directed by James Ivory and produced by his long-time partner Ismail Merchant, tries to make a heavy-handed parallel between civilization and corruption. A tribe of nameless natives (played by Sam Waterston, Susan Blakely, Salome Jens and Martin Kove, among others) finds a croquet ball and, rolling it along the ground mystified by what it might be, stumbles upon an estate. They enter and occupy the mansion and don the clothes and trappings of civilized luxury. A dividing line begins to develop between strong and weak tribe members, with the weak becoming subordinate to the others. A lavish party is thrown that resembles nothing so much as a summer weekend gathering of sophisticates. After a game of croquet, however, the natives begin to tire of their masquerade and devolve back into their original, more primitive state, and disappear into the forest. Cinematographer Walter Lassally makes the film's point more blunt and obvious by filming the prologue in black and white and then switching to color once the tribe discovers the estate. One of Ivory's co-writers was Michael O'Donoghue, infamous bad boy of the original Saturday Night Live writing staff.
by Karl Williams synopsis