Reviewed by: Jarl K. Waggoner
Starring: Cornel Wilde, Gert Van der Berg, Ken Gampu, Patrick Mynhardt, Bella Randles, Morrison Gampu | Director: Cornel Wilde | Producers: Cornel Wilde, Sven Persson | Screenwriters: Clint Johnston, Don Peters | Released By: Paramount
Action-Adventure fans will enjoy this tale of survival as a man is forced to rely on his own knowledge and abilities to escape the African tribesmen who have made him their prey.
Cornel Wilde, who also produced and directed, stars as the unnamed safari manager who leads a group of ivory hunters into the wilds of nineteenth-century Africa. When they’re confronted by native warriors, he advises the hunters to appease the Africans with a token gift. The arrogant refusal to do so by the hunters’ leader results in reprisal and death. Wilde, the last surviving member of the group, is stripped and released to become the prey of the warriors. The chase is on as the man must elude his pursuers and endure the challenges of the land and his own physical limitations. There is little dialogue in the film, and there are no subscripts to translate the Africans’ words, but the viewer will have little difficulty understanding what is going on.
The brief introductory narration says it all. When people lack the will to understand one another, they become like wild beasts. Beyond this commentary, the movie itself doesn’t pass judgment on the events; the camera merely records what takes place and leaves the viewer to make his or her own judgments. The plot and action make this a captivating film, but Christians especially can see in it the neglected lessons of history and Scripture. Much tragedy results from the hunting party’s refusal to give in to the exceedingly small request of the tribesmen. On the other hand, many people die because the Africans’ brutal response to the offense lacks any sense of proportion. It seems appropriate, therefore, that the viewer naturally roots for the fleeing man, for he seems to be the only genuinely decent person in this story.
“The Naked Prey” is a brilliantly directed, entertaining film. Some possible concerns for parents are the violence (there are several brutal killings, though not especially graphic by today’s standards), some stereotypes of African people, and the bare-breasted African women.