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One of Clint Eastwood's most unjustly-neglected movies... he directed and stars as a cranky, strong-willed movie director (he's actually playing the real-life John Huston, though his character is called "Wilson" in the movie... and the book it was based on). In Africa to direct an action-comedy ("The African Queen" in real life) Wilson throws the project into turmoil when he suddenly becomes obsessed with hunting and killing an elephant. "It's not a crime... it's bigger than that... it's a SIN," he says by way of justification. It takes a while to get used to Clint trying to play John Huston... trying to talk in a different style of voice than we're used to hearing... but the dialog and story are so compelling that you forget that Clint really is the wrong guy for this role. And yet, by the time the movie reaches it's devastating final line... Clint has made the character his own. As far as Clint's directing work goes... I would rank this film right after "Unforgiven"!
This film is based on a book by Peter Viertel who worked with Huston on a number of projects. He shares writing credit with Huston on We Were Strangers. The book and film give us Viertel's version of what it was like to work with the great John Huston on The African Queen. Viertel finally bailed out and Huston and cast somehow managed to create a masterpiece. Eastwood plays the fictional representation of Huston to the hilt, creating one of his most memorable roles. This is a film that you have to work at. If you know a little of the history, though, it is well worth seeing.
I must admit that Clint Eastwood was the main reason why I watched this
movie. I'm already quite familiar with his work as an actor and as a
director - even though I still haven't seen his biggest success
"Million Dollar Baby" yet - and overall I can enjoy his work. Does that
mean that I love all his movies? No, certainly not, but most of the
time, he's the one who saves the movie, even when it isn't all that
good. Knowing that he directed this movie and played a major role in
it, only made it more interesting for me.
"White Hunter Black Heart" shows how the world famous movie director John Huston is planning on making a trip to Africa, where he will shoot his next movie. But despite his reputation of being a good director, he is also a very difficult man to work with. He doesn't want to make any concessions towards the producers and to make things worse he is also more interested in shooting the biggest elephant possible than shooting his movie and there is nothing or no-one who can bring him to other ideas...
Overall this is a good movie, although I must say that the beginning didn't do it for me. At first I had the feeling that the characters weren't all that real. They felt too much like caricatures, almost making this movie feel like a comedy, which it certainly isn't. That's also the reason why I wasn't exactly thinking about giving this movie a very high rating. But I always make that final decision at the end of the movie and I admit that the end of the movie was a lot better than the beginning. Not only was it very clear that John Wilson felt himself more at ease in Africa than in England, his reactions after the hunt also showed that this wasn't yet another typical type of quiet tough guy without any human emotions that Clint Eastwood plays so often. I really appreciated that in this movie. What I also liked was the entire 'behind the scenes of a classic movie' idea. OK, if you regularly buy a DVD, then you know from the extra's how a movie is shot. But that's how it is done today with all the modern techniques, camera's, lighting equipment. They didn't have all that in the fifties and it's nice to see how it was done back then.
Overall this is an enjoyable movie that offers some good acting and an interesting story. If the beginning had been more believable, this might well have become one of my all-time favorites. Now I give it a rating in between 7/10 and 7.5/10.
White Hunter, Black Heart both left me confused as well as breathless. The
movie, that I saw earlier this year on television, struck me as deep yet
peculiar. Clint Eastwood, in one of his most memorable roles ever, John
Wilson, goes out to shoot an elephant while what he really should be doing
is shoot a Hollywood movie in the 1950s.
The only person on the crew who shares his view and almost understand him is Pete Verril (Jeff Fahey), a writer brought on to improve the script. Although Pete supports Wilson, Pete realizes that the hunt of an elephant is more than just an adventure for Wilson, but an obsession. Wilson is willing to compromise the entire crew's careers and futures just to commit "the only legal sin."
The movie has certain themes, including conservation, obsession and movie-making theories. The themes aren't explored too well, which explains the muddled ending. But still this is an enjoyable film.
Based on a novel by Peter Viertel, based on his experiences while filming the African Queen, the film is either going to grip you from the start, or bore you to death. You'll ever like it or forget it. The ending takes a little figuring out (especially at mentioning the title), but people who like movies about film making and Africa should like this.
(4 outta 5 stars)
One of Clint Eastwood's most unjustly-neglected movies... he directed and stars as a cranky, strong-willed movie director (he's actually playing the real-life John Huston, though his character is called "Wilson" in the movie... and the book it was based on). In Africa to direct an action-comedy ("The African Queen" in real life) Wilson throws the project into turmoil when he suddenly becomes obsessed with hunting and killing an elephant. "It's not a crime... it's bigger than that... it's a SIN," he says by way of justification. It takes a while to get used to Clint trying to play John Huston... trying to talk in a different style of voice than we're used to hearing... but the dialogue and story are so compelling that you forget that Clint really is the wrong guy for this role. And yet, by the time the movie reaches it's devastating final line... Clint has made the character his own. As far as Clint's directing work goes... I would rank this film right after "Unforgiven"... yes, even better than "Mystic River"!
On one level, this film is a failure: It's a fictionalized knock-off of the behind-the-scenes machinations of the making of "The African Queen" with Bogart & Hepburn directed by John Huston. This surface level is not so enthralling. On a second level, the level I believe the artists really wanted to put across, it isn't so enthralling either. Nevertheless, they are to be commended for attempting something unusual: An effort to show the creative process -- and the fears lurking within barring the fruition of art, often at great costs to health and personal relationships. In ranking Eastwood's films, this film falls below "Unforgiven", "Million Dollar Baby", "Bird" or "The Bridges of Madison County", but the subtext here raises its status. A must-see for the serious artist or wannabe.
Clint Eastwood stars in, directed and produced this original adventure
film that alternates with great skill and unique perspective, a
recreation of the early stages of the filming of "The African Queen"
and the obsession of its director to hunt an elephant tusks in the
middle Savannah portentous African. A self-destructive portrait of the
protagonist John Wilson (Clint Eastwood) is but a facade for John
Huston's' The African Queen. "
It is not, strictly speaking, the typical vision of cinema through film but, of course, mishaps on the set and the verbal battles between "John Wilson" (Clint Eastwood), a veteran filmmaker back around, and team members have no waste.
It is an extraordinary building of character inspired by John Huston modelling Eastwood. Nobody is better than a great actor-turned-best director, if possible, to become one of the greatest American filmmakers of personality and character. The privileges of this crafty, eccentric, bully, a womanizer and "bon vivant" found in Houston and the interpretation of Eastwood everything you need to display the charisma and genius of this character.
"John Wilson" does not fight with the producer of Hollywood: he has transcended the world of cinema, to begin a more spiritual struggle and 'black heart', "hunt the elephant with large tusks". This is the leitmotiv of the film will cause an evolution of the more interesting actor narrated with high performance filled with silences, glances, gestures, It's resulting in a film with acting and directing at the height of his best work.
The music goes perfectly, the photography is darker than expected for a story set in Africa and actor Eastwood surprisingly registration change to get into the character of John Huston.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Is this movie a masterpiece or a dog? The other reviews here present a wide range of opinions. It's true that Clint is playing a bastard for the first 100 minutes of the film, and he does talk so much that his character alienates himself from the sympathy of the audience, but that's the point, you're SUPPOSED to hate him! The supporting cast is collectively given the "hero's role" as foil to their tyrannical boss. It's also true that at it's core, this film is about the creative process of a movie director, the John Houston character, who must work himself into a state of self-revulsion before he feels ready to film a work of art. But it is not true that the movie's title is an insult to the director. In the last few moments of the film, Clint's character suffers the loss of one of his native guides. And when the other guides dub him "white hunter, black heart", it is in praise of his soul, not in condemnation. This movie is truly a masterpiece, and probably Clint's highest achievement.
Clint Eastwood's caricature of legendary moviemaker John Huston marked a change of pace at the time from the Malpaso Man's usual shoot-'em-ups. But because this semi-fictional account of Huston's elephant safari during the filming of 'The African Queen' is so thinly disguised, all the coy name changes (Eastwood is "John Wilson") and character imitations seem pointless. The actor-director mimics Huston's distinctive voice and mannerisms with refreshing, unflattering candor, but is too relaxed to accurately capture the older filmmaker's irresponsible iconoclasm (when faced with a charging wild elephant one almost expects him to mutter, "...go ahead, jumbo, make my day.") It could have been a fascinating character study of silver screen illusions and obsessions, but too much of the film is marred by Eastwood's pedestrian direction (POV shots from a monkey?) and by Pete Viertel's self-promoting autobiographical screenplay, presenting himself (as 'The African Queen' co-writer "Pete Verrill") in a too transparently flattering portrait: honest, handsome, and (of course) a "brilliant" artist.
"White Hunter, Black Heart" is very much a character driven film. The plot
is easy to give a summery of: a movie director named John Wilson (Clint
Eastwood) wants to shoot a film in Africa so he can hunt down an
The very first time I saw this movie, my first impression of Eastwood's performance was that it seem a little odd. I wasn't sure what he was doing there. But as the film went on, I realized that he was lost in his performance. The performance seems to take over at some point. I think it's a great performance from Eastwood, and as a director, it's another strong film from him. With each viewing of this film, I seem to like it even more. My rating: 9/10
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