Hoping to hear a good anti-hunting line or two, I watched the Clint Eastwood film, White Hunter Black Heart last night. Though overly focused on Eastwood’s character, John Wilson (a thinly-veiled representation bordering on caricature of the director John Huston), who flies to Africa to shoot a film…but is really more interested in shooting an elephant—literally and lethally. After spotting a large “tusker” bull, Wilson becomes obsessed with getting “My elephant” (as he referred to the noble animal).
As it turns out, it was John Wilson’s sidekick, Pete Verrill (played by Jeff Fahey), the screenwriter on Wilson’s film project (and the stand-in for the director’s non-existent conscience) who voiced the story’s classic anti-hunting line. Looking at the impressive bull elephant (the object of Wilson’s obsession) through binoculars, Pete Verrill remarks, “Oh. I’ve never seen one before, outside the circus or the zoo. They’re so majestic; so indestructible. They’re part of the earth. They make us feel like perverse little creatures from another planet. Without any dignity.”
Though Clint Eastwood has a hard time losing himself in his characters, he was clearly not portraying himself through this director with a big-game trophy-hunter wanna-be fixation. Eastwood himself is a bit too evolved and intelligent for that, as evidenced by his statement to the Los Angeles Times: “I don’t go for hunting. I just don’t like killing creatures.”