Rhino, elephants, buffalo… and John Wayne

11/04/2009 8:48 AM |

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Hatari!, which plays tonight at BAM, is an experimental film, and a dare. “So you think you’re a director?” Hawks seems to be asking. Well, why don’t you try and throw herds of zebras, giraffes, monkeys, baby elephants and more uncontrollable animals into the mix with a Benetton ad motley crew of mediocre actors with indeterminate accents, plus John Wayne, and from that make a controlled casual masterpiece, perhaps the most Hawksian film of all. All the dialogue is purely rhythmic, conveying little character or story—instead it just glides the riveting action along. In fact, there’s only one character, the group, and the main narrative tension is in breaking in the new girl, a high strung Italian named D’Allesandro (so Dallas, natch) into the group’s rhythms and codes. As Waynes sums up, “Rhino, elephants, buffalo… and a greenhorn.”

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