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Hatari!

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In 1960, director Howard Hawks arrived in Tanganyika, now Tanzania, with actors John Wayne, Red Buttons, Hardy Krüger and Elsa Martinelli in tow. They were there to shoot action scenes for his movie Hatari! (meaning 'danger' in Swahili). They filmed on location at the Arusha and Serengeti national parks, at Mount Meru and in the town of Arusha, and created one of the most visually interesting African movies of all time.

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Hatari! tells the story of a Western expat animal capture team, headed up by John Wayne, collecting animals for the world's zoos. Much of the movie shows them racing across the open savannah around Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater, chasing rhinos, giraffes and zebras. The scenery is breathtaking.

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The movie has been the subject of much praise for its cinematography, by Russell Harlan, including an Oscar nomination in 1962. Rather astonishingly, according to Howard Hawks, all of the hunting scenes were filmed using the actors, and not stunt doubles, animal handlers or professional hunters. When, at one point, a rhino escapes, it's the actors themselves who have to recapture it. Hawks kept this scene in for its realism.

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The movie has been praised for this authenticity – capturing Tanganyika as it was, the animal pursuits as they really were, and getting up close to the wildlife without using special effects. (Interestingly, the same animals that were filmed in Africa were captured and flown in a DC6 across Africa to Hollywood for scenes finished there.)

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The film ends with three baby elephants marching through a small local town. This is Arusha, once a sleepy little town, now a major city and the center of safari tourism in Tanzania.

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Many other scenes were filmed on a hunting ranch, Ngongongare Farm, at that time owned by Krüger. (He bought it in 1960 and sold it 13 years later.) Today it is known as the Hatari Lodge, named after the movie and luxuriously appointed, with views of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Mero and nearby swampland.

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Hatari! is a throwback to a time when movies about Africa didn't star Africans, and when hunting wild animals wasn't politically incorrect. There's a lot about this movie that doesn't feel quite right any more, but for a chance to see northern Tanzania in the Sixties, it's remarkable. – Roshan McArthur

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  • Samir Ibrahim

    June 12, 2016

    I must have watched this movie a THOUSAND times . I first watched it when I was 15 yo , I am almost 69 yo now and still fond of it, every time I watch it I feel like its the first time . From time to time , I check the net just to see how the remaining actors are doing. Great time, great actors, excellent movie from A to Z. God I miss those days

  • James

    March 20, 2016

    I have watched this movie many times over the years…. and it has never grown old. It is always fun and exciting. Somehow it has a good blend of humor, scenery, danger, and interesting characters.

  • nancy

    May 26, 2014

    I just caught part of one scene from this movie on television. A very old banyan tree is destroyed in order to capture the monkeys sitting in its branches. Heartbreaking.

  • Manish

    February 1, 2013

    Had seen Hatari! as a kid and have had very fond memories of the movie. And after almost 35 years, got a DVD and showed it to my son! Amazing feeling to see my son also enjoying the movie as much as I did. I love Africa and Hatari! has played a big role in that. Also, wondering how the animal capture scenes were shot. And how the camera was held to steady… Awesome movie!

  • Nimal Seneviratna

    January 19, 2013

    The year 1962 I have seen this film as a school boy. Film contain full of fun
    to me thase days.because of this film I am interesting to wild beings. But I don’t like to arest them. They should n’t live in cages. Such a way I feel the freedom as a yong teen ager. Now I am old man ,what I want to tell you is
    This film is became a land mark to my life.

  • Jim Valerio

    September 2, 2008

    I loved this good old down to earth movie without the political correctness you have today.

    Good acting, beautiful African landscape. I loved the Duke in this one and it’s supporting cast! When I go back to Africa someday, I will have to check out Arusha and maybe stay at the film location ranch.

    That would be fun!

Any comments?