Bwana Devil A poster

The choice of subject matter for the first 3D was a good pick– the gruesome, real-life attacks on workers in Tsavo, Kenya from March through December of 1898 by a pair of lions.  The story that inspired director Arch Oboler’s 1952 adventure Bwana Devil would later be adapted as the 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer (as well as a lesser direct-to-video movie, Prey, in 2007).  Bwana Devil is now available via streaming on Amazon Prime.  It’s not shown in its original 3D format, but as we have suggested before here at borg.com, watching it via 3D glasses and an up-converted 3D television system will get you close to the original 3D presentation.

Robert Stack plays Bob Hayward, an ineffective chief engineer and leader of local tribes building a railway.  Stack’s performance reveals a frenzied and crazed character who makes nothing but bad decisions over the course of the story.  Nigel Bruce, in one of his final film roles, plays Dr. Angus MacLean, Hayward’s jovial friend and confidante.  All that can go wrong does.  Hayward isn’t up for the task of completing a railway across East Africa between Kenya and Uganda even before lions begin plucking off workers one by one.  His stupidity gets innocents killed from almost the opening scene to the last, from a cook he drags along from another town to a very young African child.

Bwana Devil how it works 3D

Bwana Devil has the feel of a live-action Jonny Quest, and it’s fun to see all these Teddy Roosevelt Hunter types doing their thing.  But it is also a cringeworthy look at British imperialism and the dominance of the local peoples that comes with it.  The Ghost and the Darkness handles these themes better.

Continue reading