WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART

WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART

Of all of Clint Eastwood’s pictures I love (and I love many), White Hunter, Black Heart is the one I feel most affection for. That even includes Unforgiven, which runs a very close second.

A very loose telling of John Huston filming The African Queen, Eastwood creates a complex bastard who’s become obsessed with killing an elephant. Everything can burn for his fixation: friendships, career, respect. The sad thing (and likely the most truthful theme) is that everyone else pays for his immorality.

What’s most compelling is his ability for frankness. He bullshits nobody, not even himself. He realizes what he is deep inside: a man who has to create crisis to measure his own worth. The final scene and its concluding shot lays heavy on me every time I watch it.

“It’s not a crime to kill an elephant. It’s bigger than all that. It’s a sin to kill an elephant. You understand? It’s the only sin you can buy a license for and go out and commit… do you understand me? Of course you don’t. I don’t even understand it myself.”