menu-home menu-films menu-people menu-oral-history menu-education menu-events menu-about
Corner Image
WildFilmHistory logo
WildFilmHistory » Home » Films » Simba: The King of the Beasts

Simba: The King of the Beasts  (1928)

Filming an ancient elephant trail

A groundbreaking travelogue, Simba follows the intrepid American filmmaking couple Osa and Martin Johnson on their four year expedition over the African subcontinent. Filmed in an era when African wildlife was still relatively bountiful, the production shows how the landscape looked in the early twentieth century.

In stark contrast to the conservation themed wildlife films of today, the Johnsons' approached their subjects armed with both camera and rifle, with the production including provoked behaviour, staged confrontations and animals shot to death on film. Relying heavily on cutting in kills from professional marksmen, numerous hunting scenes culminate in a heart stopping sequence where, with the use of clever editing, the adventurous Mrs Johnson appears to bring down a charging rhinoceros with one well-aimed shot.

Responsible for introducing a whole generation of American movie-goers to the wonders of the African environment, Simba was a large-scale success, detailing wildlife and indigenous tribespeople that had seldom appeared on screen before.

Evading stampeding elephants, employing scores of servants and gamefully shooting down a variety of species, the film provides an intriguing glimpse not only into 1920s Africa but also into the Johnsons themselves, part of a 'gung-ho' breed that is, in itself, now largely extinct.

Copyright holder

Copyright Holder: The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum
Address: 111 North Lincoln Avenue
Chanute
KS 66720
USA
Telephone: 620-431-2730
Email: osajohns@safarimuseum.com
Website: http://www.safarimuseum.com

Film credits

Editor: Martin E. Johnson
Editor: Terry Ramsaye
Music: Marvin Faulwell
Music: Bob Keckeisen
Photography: Martin E. Johnson
Photography: Osa Johnson nee Leighty
Producer: Daniel E. Pomeroy
Production: Carl Akeley
Production: Alfred J. Klein

Related links

Martin E. Johnson
Osa Johnson nee Leighty
Clips
Filming an ancient elephant trail
Filming an ancient elephant trail
Osa Johnson training assistant camermen
Osa Johnson training assistant camermen
Spearing 'a roaring comet of wrath'
Spearing 'a roaring comet of wrath'
Stills
Martin and Osa Johnson in a customised camera car used during the filming of Simba
Martin and Osa Johnson in a customised camera...
Martin and Osa Johnson using camera car whilst filming for Simba
Martin and Osa Johnson using camera car whilst...
Martin Johnson and Carl Akeley's camera cars meet in Tanganyika, during filming for Simba
Martin Johnson and Carl Akeley's camera cars...
Martin and Osa Johnson, with Akeley camera, during filming for Simba
Martin and Osa Johnson, with Akeley camera,...
Movie poster for Simba
Movie poster for Simba
Martin Johnson developing film in the field for Simba, using canvas bags as his darkroom
Martin Johnson developing film in the field...