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A lot of comments hear say that this movie is obviously racist.
I think this an nervous knee jerk reaction. It definitely dose not put a phony PC spin on colonial Africa but that doesn't mean it is racist.
Certainly the racism of the safari leader who refuses to respect the tribe with a gift is portrayed and is most likely accurate. It should be noted that the rest of the movie is a direct result of this racist white mans ignorant arrogance and that the hero knows better and tries to warn him. It is improbable that one man, out of his element, could over come his pursuers who must know the terrain better and have more experience hunting and fighting with spears, however I think this is not an attempt to portray the white man as superior but a convention of action movies (heroes can always dodge bullets). The idea that this movie portrays all Africans as savages is based on the assumption that the pursuers are representative of ALL Africans which is a bit racist in itself. They are a particular tribe. Africa is a big continent full of many different nations and tribes. There are other Africans present including those in the safari party, who are not shown to be savages. There are also two other tribes depicted towards the end. One is the village that the man comes upon. These people wear dyed clothing and seem to have a more advanced, structured, and less violently primal, society. The white mans life is saved by a child from this more peaceful tribe. They are attacked by another tribe, obviously working for colonial slave traders, who wear more modern clothing and have guns. This really happened. Some Africans at war with other Africans would sell their conquered foes to the white slave traders.
When will people learn that portraying racism in all its ugliness and complexity is not equivalent to being a racist. The man who plays the hero was also the director. he is a white man and the story is told from his perspective but not exclusively. Part of the films context is that of cultures colliding, both European with African, and African with African. Another important point to this movie is that this is an educated, civilized man who is (literally) stripped of all the trappings of his civilization and thrust into the primal, and universal, struggle of shear survival. Im no expert on Africa but from what little I have read about its history, the movie, while a simple tale in itself, did not seem to over simplify its portrayal of Africa. I suspect that, quite far from being racist, the makers of this film probably had a respect for African culture. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
Over all I found it to be well acted. Even though the film makers did not have had a big Hollywood budget and may have used some stock wild life footage, it seemed to blend seamlessly. As far as the chicken chasing scene, I liked how comic it was. In reality a starving man, desperately chasing a chicken around with a spear would probably look pitifully comical and I believe the irony is intentional.
I recommend this film. I found it to be very original but if forced to describe it I would say its a mixture of Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout (though not as pretentious) and Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
The Naked Prey is one of my favorite adventure movies. It is pure visual cinema. By that I mean the film can be shown anywhere in the world to any age audience without translations or sub-titles. Everyone viewing the action will understand everything that is happening on the screen whether they understand the languages or not. Like the movie Zulu, the antagonists are African tribesmen, but in both films, I never had the sense the natives were evil villains. Rather, the story is about the clash between two alien cultures, a life-or-death struggle that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Like Psycho, The Naked Prey should be taught in every film class around the world. It is perfect and pure just the way it is.
The Naked Prey is on my short list of the best films of all time. After a very few minutes, the viewer will sit on the edge of his seat for a full hour where there is virtually no dialogue. When this movie was first released 35 years ago, I drove 30 miles across town to find and see it. It was worth the trip. Years later, watching it on TV, they omitted (so as not offend the viewers' sensibilities) what was one of the most effective moments in relieving the tension in an action film I have ever seen - the burp! The next time it was shown, I had to watch and was pleased to see it was back in. Watch for it, and you will know what I mean. All of the comments by naysayers about racism should be ignored. If anything, it is one of the most anti-racist films ever made, much credit to Cornel Wilde who made, directed and starred in the film with outstanding achievement in all three areas. Previously known for his role as Fredric Chopin in "An Affair to Remember", this was also one of my favourite films. As "the prey" Wilde shows the battle not only of man against man, but man against nature in the fight for survival and in a triumphal moment at the end he salutes his pursuers who, in mutual respect, return his salute. What more egalitarian gesture can one ask for in a pursuit and a fight to the death? Recommended for all adults but for those with a weak stomach.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Here is a magnificent example of a film that can generate an atmosphere
of survivalist instinct so well, that water is the only thing that
comes to mind after viewing.
Set aside its riveting plot and direction by a new-to-film-making olympic champion Cornel Wilde, and what you have is one of the most atmospheric films of all time! You really feel like your there, on a survivalist run from Tribal African Predators with only 10 seconds in front of the nearest warrior. There is that consistent feel of stamina and nostalgia, but there is always that sense of comfort in knowing that the main actor is the Olympic champion runner (also director) and that he has a great chance to make it out alive.
What surprises me most is that this film has hardly dated and the themes the film explores regarding humanity and life still apply today. An adventure film of lightning power that may teach us a lesson or two - different country, different customs.......no need to be prejudiced (A quote from 'The Man Who Would Be King' - another stellar Adventure escapist masterpiece).
Dialogue in the film comes close to NIL, but like in a Clint Eastwood movie, you read the emotions through the eyes and the facial expressions . The plot is very simple and straight forward and you come to understand the African Tribe - it is a film where no side is right, but survival is a human instinct!
What I found most striking about this film was the cinematography and the stock footage. It gave a sense of natural beauty, yet a sense of emptiness and isolation - and as we are going on our journey with our protagonist, we feel inevitably alone (that nobody can help you but yourself) and this is why this movie stands high above many. It projects difficulty of the situation to perfection in showing the heat of the region, the thirst and hunger that arises from scarce vegetation and wildlife and you cannot help but be drawn into our protagonists struggle for hydration.
No orchestral score was provided in the background either - our complete sense of civilization has been taken from us and we are treated to the unfamiliar tribal drum rhythm. Towards the end, you feel frantic for the protagonist and it is only when he starts singing the English song that you feel the sanity is still there in such a harsh circumstance.
It is impossible to take your eyes off the screen throughout the running time of this masterly crafted gem of a film. It is when you see the British headquarters at the end that you sigh with relieve after such a long, excruciating journey.
The actors did a marvelous job. Especially the leader of the tribal warriors. There was a real sense of humanity that came upon him when he waved off our protagonist at the end of the film and there was a real understanding on his face - a great performance!
This film is rare and out of print. One of those great films that deserves so much more recognition than it received upon its release - especially when compared to the box-office drawing Hollywood masterpieces of mediocrity that dominate our cinema screens today. I can only say that this is a must have in a film collection. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys adventure thrillers, because this is one of the best, and those who have seen it know what I am talking about. For a rarely equaled atmospheric masterwork such as "The Naked Prey", go no further. A forgotten 'classic' in its genre.
"The Naked Prey" completely puts modern action film blockbusters from
the likes of Michael Bay to absolute shame. In this modern age,
Hollywood seems convinced a film can't be suspenseful without lots of
flashy editing, booming music, and a script completely devoid of logic.
"The Naked Prey" is an utterly minimalist film that manges to be
completely thrilling throughout. The whole film deals with a safari
guide running away from a tribe whom his expedition offended. There's
probably only fifty lines of spoken dialog (most of which are towards
the beginning), with most of the film concentrating on Cornel Wilde
avoiding his predators and trying to survive in the jungle. The films
lack of a complicated plot works very well and allows plenty of
intelligent (if not always subtle) commentary to be included.
The film is one of a few directed by Cornel Wilde, who is more well known as an actor. The film moves at a lightning fast pace and is never anything less than suspenseful. Its easily the best film Wilde directed. As "The Man" on the run, he gives a great performance, filled with fascinating facial expressions to compensate for the lack of dialog. The actors playing the natives are never anything less than convincing as well. The film isn't a complete masterpiece, as it isn't nearly as interesting or exciting on subsequent viewings. Still, its an intelligent and not flashy action film thats entirely worth watching. (8/10)
I saw this movie when I was 16 (1966) and it has remained with me since. Upon viewing it in later life, it is still as good as it was then. This film has very little speaking in it, but the action will keep the viewer sitting on the edge of his seat until the climatic end. In short, this is a GREAT movie. It is about man's struggle against man and man's struggle against nature. It is about the fragility of man, whose arrogance and brutality lead him to believe he is superior to other men and nature. Enough philosophizing. Watch this on as large a screen as possible. By the way, Cornel Wilde was reportedly an expert swordsman.
What a rare and glorious film. The Africans, the Whites, the Arabs -- all thrashing about a primitive world blindly lurching for profit, vengeance, pride, and redemption. The animal scenes are bit canned, but the hardy authenticity of tribal southern Africa is marvellous. You can tell these are not extras from Culver City. It's a movie not afraid of blood and savagery. You root for the cunning and feel the fear on both sides. And the ending does make sense to those who know that men appreciate even an enemy who has fought bravely.
Boy, this is about a simple an action story as you're going to find,
but it works, and has its interesting moments. Almost the entire film
is devoted to a safari guide/hunter being chased (for the kill) by
members of a angry tribe. Those tribe members had been insulted by an
obnoxious member of the safari group and this good-guy guide (Cornell
Wilde) has to run for his life.
Along his escape for survival, we, the viewers, are treated almost to a National Geographic-type tour of the African jungle with many wild animals, crocodiles, poisonous insects, snakes and - the most species of them all: naked women!
The film looks dated here and there but it's now over 40 years old. There is not much English dialog in here, but it's not needed.
This is not a film for the squeamish. Footage of African elephants
being gunned down was used in this film. Some of the most horrific
brutality man can inflict on his fellow human being is depicted. How
did they get a tribe to act out these ghastly portrayals? Were these
practices once used? Binding someone, encasing them in mud, sticking a
cylindrical device in their mouth so they can breathe, allowing the mud
to harden, and then slow roasting them over a fire is much more than
primitive. It is a scenario drawn out of the deepest recesses of
No suggestion of racism here. Both blacks and whites are hacked, speared, and cut to pieces. Thank goodness that part of the film is overshadowed by a thrilling chase through the wilds of Africa, which is the gist of the story.
It is easy to conclude that many black people have been offended by the imagery in this film. I was offended at the brutality. But, I was captivated by the desire to make this film believable. Even the music was traditional African. The humanity of the savage pursuers is manifested. And finally, the bond of humanity between the hunted and the hunter is suggested: as Cornel Wilde raises his hand to show respect to those who so eagerly tried to kill him, the lead hunter raises his hand as a gesture of respect and admiration. The same basic idea can be seen in the final scenes of Zulu Dawn. After the bloodshed, enemies become honored warriors.
If you want a basic movie review you may want to skip this entry.
However, if you are a fan of the late Joseph Campbell, or enjoy attempts
mythological interpretation, you might find this interesting. On the
surface, Naked Prey may appear as just a neat Tour-de-Force action film,
having viewed it numerous times over the past 15 years, I have found the
film to reveal a much deeper critical significance then most works of the
celluloid genre can offer.
Cornell Wilde's survival trek across the wilds of South Africa
an immensely symbolic experience that mirrors the primal journey of every
human mind and spirit. Filled with archetypes instead of personalities,
(Notice there are no names in the movie, only "Man" and the "Pursuers",
if they are only ideas of something) Naked Prey is a showcase for the
figurative battle that every human "fights" in their subconscious
sparse dialogue of the film underlines the fact that this is a movie of
The film's chase scenes appear as a model of the universal/eternal
cycle of life. In the film's opening, Cornel Wilde sets off from the
fortress like an infant from the womb, and influenced by choice and
goes through a figurative cycle of birth-life-death-rebirth.
A few of the movie's "props" play important roles: The harsh flora
fauna of the savanna act as the world of obstacles that we all must
struggle and compete within. "Stripped down", literally in this film! The
naked man must become a part of his environment in order to conqueror it.
(Just as Wilde becomes both hunter and hunted in many scenes of the
Other major archetypes include the Masai tribesmen, who are not so
the "villians" of the story as they might represent the elements of
fear. They are part of the danger, and their pursuit to catch the man is
relentless as the uncertanties/trials we must face as human beings. The
"Man" is not the target of their hunt solely by chance. Though
some "nobleness" of character, he has paritally put himself in this
by the reluctant choice of company he kept with the Safari.
The Man must therefore confront the unknown possibilites of the wild, and be willing to "die" (As he appears to briefly when dragged from the river) before he can get back "home". His goal of "settling down" on his farm must be put-off until he completes this "rite of passage". Ultimately as the late mythological expert Joseph Campbell would say, we come to the task of the mythical hero, to accomplish that unknown goal that brings spiritual fulfillment. Obviously, this is the "Man" who is able, well almost able...to return to the seminal place from which he came. With the help of some outside support, (The little girl, the sentry guards at the fort) "Man" becomes a survivor and fulfills his quest. He is able to look back at his struggle (As we sometimes reflect on our past) with an almost wry smile. Though not very movie-buff would care much to turn entertainment into philosophical study, it is to me as if these sub-conscious archetypes in Naked Prey are unlocked gradually through the viewer's very natural relationship to them. I don't necessarily believe that Wilde read as deeply into the story as I have, but then again that's the subconscious mind at work. Naked Prey is a very entertaining action picture. Like Boorman's Deliverance, it just also happens to an inconspicuous mythical masterpiece.
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