When Hollywood Goes Africa
Hollywood has been "visiting" Africa several times. Through
time we have been offered a glimpse of historic insight, but mostly
completely misleading information from these films. A story often told
is that of "a white man in Africa". Africa and the people are
often only used as an exotic backdrop of a lousy movie. Nevertheless
a few of the films below are actually small masterpieces. Here is a few
kinds in no special order.
Master of storytelling, John Huston, takes us on a great adventure navigating
a small boat through Africa during WW1. Humphrey Bogart is the ever drunk
captain who has to put up with the missionary played by Katharine Hepburn.
It is no great surprise that they eventually fall in love, but it is
great filmmaking as they don't make it anymore.
Ghost and The Darkness
This action drama is based on a true
story from 1898, when the British were constructing the railroad through
Kenya (view photos from Kenya). Man-eating
lions killed several workers and british engineers. The movie describes the
Africans with the same ignorance as common hundred years ago, but it is still
good old-fashioned action. Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas stars in the movie,
which is shot on location in South Africa and Kenya.
The classic story of white hunter Allan Quartermain who takes the job of helping
a young woman to find her lost husband somewhere deep inside Africa. This
oldest version is dircetd by Robert Stevenson and stars Paul Robeson,
Cedric Hardwicke and roland Young.
The best of the Solomon movies. Story is the same: Qartermain falling in love
with the woman he is guiding through the wild and dangerous Africa. Starring
Deboarh Kerr and Stewart Granger. Good adventure entertainment and quite
impressive action sequences for the time. Filmed spectaculary on location
in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo and
The worst of
the 3 versions features Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone. Mainly fails because it
tries to copy the style from Indiana Jones. Several script errors, bad dialogue
and directing. Some of the film is shot on location in Zimbabwe.
Directed by Frank Marshall
A silly adventure-action-horror film based on a book by Michael Crichton. The story is actually a modernised version of king Solomon's Mines with a touch of King Kong, Indiana Jones, Jurrassic Park, Aliens and a "talking" plastic gorilla on top of it all! Does it sound bad? It sure is. Parts of the movie are filmed on location in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Directed by John Ford. A great Hollywood cast of Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and
Adventure film with John Wayne, directed by Howard Hawks. A group of men are
making their living from trapping animals and selling them to zoo's in Europe
and America. A woman shows up. She is a wildlife photographer and questions
the mens methods. Exiting, entertaining and good action scenes, but no more.
Filmed mainly in the national parks of Tanzania. "Hatari" is
the swahili word for danger.
Snows Of Kilimanjaro
A wounded writer rethinks his life while waiting for relief. Gregory Peck stars
in this movie based on the short
story by Ernest Hemingway. Not much is actually
shot on location in Africa.
Stewart Granger is onece again the great white hunter. He is hunting a giant
elephant which killed his best friend. Filmed on location in Kenya and directed
Shaft in Africa
Starring: Richard Roundtree
Directed by John Guillermin
The third "blaxploitation" movie with Shaft takes him back to the
African continent to infiltrate modern day slave business and bring it down.
No great film, but funny and interesting if you are interested in how black
Americans portrayed themselves in films in the early seventies.
A Far Off Place
Family adventure/drama directed by Danish Michael Solomon for Disney Pictures(!)
Shot in Namibia and Zimbabwe.
The animated Disney version of the Tarzan story. Don't expect to see any Africans
in this story. I guess it doesn't need further introduction.
This female version of Tarzan was first put on the screen in 1955 and like
Tarzan, Sheena was created as a comic book figure. Directed by John Guillermin
and starring Tanya Roberts as the orphaned blond girl growing up with an
African tribe. Sterotypic, as can be expected, and skinny plot. Some audience
(mostly male) will enjoy watching a half-naked Queen of the jungle riding
on the zebras and fighting bandits. The story takes place in a fictitious
African state, but was filmed on location in Kenya.
Directed by Zoltan Korda
World War 2 fought in the Sahara. A recommendable war movie starring
Humphrey Bogart, but not very much about Africa.