Clint Eastwood's newest film, which he directs, produces, and stars in, is a compelling, unusual movie. It's not an African adventure epic, nor strictly a movie about the film classic, The African Queen. Instead, Eastwood has crafted a probing semi-fictional investigation of the maverick director, John Huston.
Ever since Play Misty For Me, Eastwood has shown his fascination for problematic, complex personalities, and here he uses the isolated grandeur of the African landscape to explore the inner dimensions of a bizarre, larger-than-life figure. John Wilson (the Huston character) is hired to direct a big-budget film to be shot in colonial Africa.
Wilson is a brilliant but self-destructive artist who urgently needs this project to get his strained finances and professional reputation back on track. Obsessive and headstrong, Wilson is also willing to sacrifice everything to fulfil his inexplicable overwhelming desire to hunt and kill a bull elephant, "the most magnificent beast in the world."
White Hunter, Black Heart is a captivating film that examines the psychological turbulence of an arrogant, passionate, Renaissance man who defines himself by taking on overwhelming challenges.
"This guy continues to amaze. White Hunter, Black Heart looks great, sounds right, moves well, provokes thought, critiques colonialsim, and turns out to be the least sentimental of movies ever made about movies (and movie macho). Eastwood's astonishingly distanced performance, in which he quotes Huston without ever ceasing to be Eastwood, is 'Brechtian' in the true sense of that much-abused term."
- J. Hoberman The Village Voice