South Africa / USA 19
Glamorous leading man turned idiosyncratic auteur Cornel Wilde created in the sixties and seventies a handful of gritty, violent explorations of the nature of man, none more memorable than The Naked Prey. In the early nineteenth century, after an ivory-hunting safari offends an African tribe, the colonialists are captured and hideously tortured. Only Wilde's marksman is released, without clothes or weapons, to be hunted for sport, and he embarks on a harrowing journey through savanna and jungle, back to a primitive state. Distinguished by vivid widescreen camera work and the unflinching depiction of savagery, The Naked Prey is both a propulsive, stripped-to-the-bone narrative and a meditation on the notion of civilization.
The leader of a safari offends a native tribe, which retaliates with a bloody attack. Two of the white men in charge are subjected to horrible deaths. The last, the safari guide (Cornel Wilde) is given a lion's chance to survive. Stripped naked and given a short head start, he's pursued by the tribe's leading warriors through the rough African countryside. The guide overpowers several of the warriors and by setting a brush fire manages to keep ahead of their spears and arrows. Some of the tribesmen would rather quit but their leader (Ken Gampu) forces the party to press on.
Theatrical Release: February 17th, 1966
DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Criterion Collection - Spine # 415 - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 9.11 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 1.0)|
commentary by film scholar Stephen Prince
The highly competent, if not totally pristine, 2.35:1 anamorphic and progressive transfer from Criterion on a dual-layered DVD is fairly clean - free of blemishes and devoid of intrusive digital noise. The Technicolor hues come to life fairly well and contrast and black levels are excellent (some possible selective boosting). The only knock might be the sharpness but for all we know this is how detailed it looked theatrically. Barring 1080 resolution (at some point) this is the best The Naked Prey will ever look on Standard DVD. It has consistent mono audio (very little dialogue) and optional English subtitles (but not for the African dialogue).
Supplements include a professional and prepared audio commentary by film scholar Stephen Prince who gives us some interesting background on Cornell Wilde and the uniqueness of the film its time of creation. Prince has a great voice as a commentarist and I enjoyed listening very much. We are also given "John Colter’s Escape," a 1913 written record of the trapper's flight from Blackfoot Indians—which was the inspiration for The Naked Prey— and read by actor Paul Giamatti. There is some insight into the original soundtrack cues created by director Cornel Wilde and ethnomusicologist Andrew Tracey, along with a written statement by Tracey on the score. Finally in the digital area is a 1:49 theatrical trailer. Criterion offers a beautifully appointed 30-page liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Michael Atkinson and a 1970 interview with Wilde.
I had only seen this film once many years ago but it stuck in my memory and I am extremely happy to both revisit and own this Criterion package. This is a very cool 'boys adventure' with some surprising depth. Recommended!