'Silent Hunter' and its influence on wildlife documentary

  • Ian Glenn, Prof. University of the Free State, South Africa
Keywords: Media studies, Documentary, Wildlife documentary, Actor-network-theory, Film analysis, Wildlife communication, Conservation communication


Silent Hunter, a 1986 South Africa wildlife documentary directed by Duncan McLachlan and featuring John Varty and Elmon Mhlongo, caused controversy because of ways in which it broke the rules of blue-chip wildlife documentaries. The new possibilities it explored appealed to producers looking for new formats for wildlife television, in particular to Discovery Channel that had started in 1985 in the United States of America. This film was thus a major influence in the move from blue-chip to presenter- driven wildlife documentary. The film also rebelled against many of the restrictions of blue-chip documentaries. With reference to actor-network-theory, this article presents some thoughts on why Silent Hunter is worth considering not only as aesthetic but also as moral critique of wildlife film production.


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