Sunday, January 11, 2009

THE NAKED PREY (Cornel Wilde, 1966, USA) Cornel Wilde’s 1966 classic film plays like some demented ultra-violent National Geographic documentary! The violence is brutal and unflinching as the bright red bloods flows in all its Technicolor glory. Inter-cut with some vintage stock footage showing the despicable slaughter of elephants for their ivory and the Darwinist brutality of the animal world, Wilde’s man is hunted amid the African savanna and jungle and reduced to an animal himself. I believe the film makes the point that civilized cultures are illusions and that our base desires and tendencies ultimately rule our actions. But Wilde doesn’t let us forget that even amid the savagery, human beings are capable of selfless acts of love and empathy; maybe there is hope for us yet. The tribesmen are portrayed as human beings and their society is organized and civilized…just in a different way. The conflict between the two cultures is nothing more than ego and territorialism, and we could sure apply that to the larger picture of nation against nation. The cinematography is awesome as we get a wide panoramic view of the green jungle, bleak savanna, and beautiful mountains. The chase scenes utilize some great backward tracking shots and low angle photography as they run towards the camera; it makes the viewer feel like part of the pursuit! Dialogue is kept to a minimum and the tribesman’s conversations are not subtitled because you can understand them through their expressions and gestures. The rhythmic thumping of native drums sets the pace for this fast-paced survivalist tale. (B+)

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