Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hunting the White Man

Naked Prey (1966) - Wilde
A manager of the white man's hunting party (Cornel Wilde, director/producer/star) in South African jungle knows the area and the customs of its natives. When the party encounters a seemingly friendly tribe, who asks for offering to their chief, the insolent, fat white man who only wants to shoot elephants in the face for sport and go in to slave trade rejects the tribe's bribe despite our manager's urging.

After successful elephant hunting, the party is raided and captured by the same tribe they insulted. Many meet grisly death - covered in clay and roasted alive, feathered and tarred and clubbed to death by the entire topless tribal women, trapped in a fire pit with a snake, etc. Our manager is saved for the last - stripped down and given a little bit of head start for 'hunting of the white man'.

The rest of the movie is pretty much a long cardiovascular activity. Our hero is not particularly resourceful but he sure can run. While he's killing and outsmarting many pursuers, we are introduced to many African nature settings - baboon fighting off cheetah (ooh, symbolism?), lion snatching off a speared gazelle, etc, etc.

The most poignant moment comes later, when our hero stumbles upon a tribe getting seized by another slave trading tribe. The sole survivor, a little girl, thanks to our hero's diversion, in turn saves him from drowning. They share food and fire and exchange songs.

Naked Prey is an oddity. It clearly says something about race, but rather concentrates its energy on the chase. But it's not overtly racist and videogamey as Apocalypto, nor as lyrical as Walkabout. Our hero is no McGyver either. He suffers from starvation, exhaustion and stomachache. The mutual respect is felt by the end and I enjoyed it.