The Naked Jungle (Byron Haskins, 1954)
This wonderful adventure movie starring Charlton Heston as Christopher Leiningen, a wealthy self-made man living on his cocoa plantation in Amazonia, diserves much praise than it actually received. Christopher has built his fortune with his own hands and bought everything he owns himself. He took great care in his choices choosing only new, never touched, furnitures for his immaculate white house. Even his piano is new from the factory, but as you learn studying music and in The Naked Jungle, a piano always sounds better when it's been played before. The story is set in the beginning of the twentieth century.
Leiningen has many Amerindian workers and in all his kindness he doesn't beat them or tie them to keep them working for him. He also understands their culture and laws. Christopher is a good master and a good diplomat. However, there's one thing he can't quite understand and master: women. When Joana (Eleanor Parker) arrives he'll have to handle this strong woman who by the way can play the pianoand confront Christopher with strong arguments. Even after their wedding Leiningen still have problems to understand his wife and her secret.
Meanwhile, a great menace will change their lives. Ants. Leiningen will have to sacrifice everything he'll have to save his workers and his wife from this danger.
The Naked Jungle is a film filled with symbolism on humanity, virtue, and how sacrifice is mandatory in the fight for their lives. The invasion of ants symbolizes how Leiningen has to struggle and forget everything he knows and owns to become a real man and open his heart to his wife. There is also the symbolism of purification with the deliberate fire of the furnitures to protect the villa from the ants. The morning after, we discover Joanna in her white dress in bed with white sheets like if she was born again from this purification. Shortly after, Leiningen will open the dam that was keeping the river's water from flooding the plantation. The water washes the last ants away and finalizes the purification. It also represents how Leiningen must open his mind and his heart to love and recognize his love to his wife.
Byron Haskins mostly made Noirs that I'll try to catch sometime soon because The Naked Jungle is a very interesting film that showed real mastery from its filmmaker. I highly recommend this very enjoyable Adventure film.