Review: The Naked Prey

Late in the film he comes across a rather peaceful and more advanced village in which he witnesses an attack by Muslim slavers.

“The Naked Prey” made in 1965, was a vehicle for Cornel Wilde, who directed, produced and starred in the movie. One of the quintessential creative conceptual movies of the last half of the twentieth century, “The Naked Prey,” was filmed entirely in Africa, used African actors, and an uncompromising African musical score all set in what seems to be early 20th century colonial Africa. It was supposed to take place in the badlands of the equatorial part of the continent, but actually was filmed in Rhodesia, today’s Zimbadwe.

Can be purchased as a DVD but was recently released on Netflix.

Taking a page out of the famous short story “The Hounds of Zaroff,” by Richard Connell, more well known by its first movie adaptation in 1933, “The Most Dangerous Game,” Wilde’s character is left with nothing, not even his clothes, and a three or four minute head start before a band of bush tribesman warriors take out after him to hunt him down like an animal because of an insult imparted by one of Wilde’s hunting party earlier in the film.

Captured and tortured to death the rest of the hunting part is left with only “man,” Wilde’s nameless designation to his own cunning and devices to survive out in the one of the world’s most unforgiving regions.

He is fortunate that the best fighters in the tribe could not bring him down. The first warrior who ran at full speed to catch up with him, hastily throws his spear and misses. “Man” not a bad hunter himself, as it was described in the first scenes he knew the terrain better than most white men, grabs the spear and impales the hunter. He then strips him of his spear, his clothing, his shoes, his water and his side knife and continues to run as the other hunters are by now well in pursuit.

As the movie progresses, the warrior brigade dwindles as “man” kills them off one by one in sometimes fierce hand to hand combat, at least for 1960s standards. The bush men are not one dimensional, as their humanity constantly bubbles to the surface, mourning their dead as they find them. Son loses a father to “man” and wales at the sight of him, picking him up in his arms and bringing him back for proper burial.

After killing one of the hunters, “man” confiscates his bow and arrow, and sets a prairie fire with it to capture and hold them back, hoping to kill them off. It doesn’t but it does force the bush men hunters to go around and lose time in capturing and killing their prey.

“Man’s” environment is constantly challenging him, not just in the pursuit but all the other dangers that exist in that part of the world, snakes, lions, cheetahs, to say nothing of the exposure to the sun and lack of water along his odessy. The symbolism of this white man surviving in these surroundings is nothing less than admirable. For example, “Man” uses his spear to bring down an African deer, only to see it taken by a huge lion, leaving him with nothing. He accepts his inferior position to the lion in this realm and moves on.

Late in the film he comes across a rather peaceful and more advanced village in which he witnesses an attack by Muslim slavers. Since this was 1965, there was no political correctness in the west that sought to erase the evil that comes from the Muslim world. This attack was indicative of Samuel Huntington’s 1992 essay, “The Clash of Civilizations.” Huntington who was a first rate political scientist academic knew of this long and sordid history of Islam, constantly trying to expand its borders through attack, enslavement, forced conversion and cruel death . He described this kind of activity as the “bloody borders of Islam.” And, it comes to life in living red color of what passed for blood in 1960s Hollywood, long before the Left started to protect Muslim transgressions against peaceful peoples, (except the Jews of course.) But that’s another story.

Slavery to this day is a real problem in the Muslim world but they are rarely if ever called out for it. The scene shows the brutality of this horde of turban wearing murderers, who incarcerate anyone who could bring a good price, young strong males, child bearing females and just killing the rest, old people, babies, and the indigent. Showing them beheading the ones that are not prime slave material strikes a cord we are all too familiar with in the second decade of the 21st century.

The film ends with the “man” reaching a British stronghold and the chase ends with only two hunters left. “Man” nods to the head of the bush men, and he nods back as if both men recognizing each other’s bravery and cunning in the wild, respecting each other’s place as warriors in that world.

A poignant moment to say the least.

This was a better than average movie for those who enjoy action, suspense, and a certain amount of personal intrigue. But, what really sets this movie apart is that it is African. It could not have happened anywhere else like this except on the wilds of the African plain south of the Sahel. That setting gives it a uniqueness all its own.