Born to be Wild is a 40-minute return to innocence.
The documentary is so engaging and affirmative, the viewer may have a smile on his or her face for the entire showing.
Unfortunately many potential viewers probably will miss it. It may seem to be just another feature that one can find on the Discovery Channel, the glut of 3-D has now become no inducement to see a movie, and the movie only lasts a scant 40 minutes.
When I saw the movie I was the only one in the theater, and when my wife saw it on a Saturday afternoon, there was only one other person present.
But Born to be Wild -- in IMAX 3-D -- is an impressive visual experience that can't be equaled on tv. It's a visit to an enchanted world -- a Peter Pan trip to nurseries for baby elephants and orangutans.
Those of us who have fond memories of Dumbo (1941) or orangutan King Louie (The Jungle Book, 1967) will be grateful.
Those of us that have to prepare ourselves to see the brutality of life in the wild need not worry. In fact, Born to be Wild may be a little too G-rated.
But it's an ideal film for children, except perhaps if a child asks, "Mommy, what is an orphan?"
We hear about killing, but never see it. There is no blood. But animal antics abound -- orangutans swing on vines and elephants frolic in dirt. The movie's spirit is life affirming.
The 3-D effectively adds to the detail and the evocativeness: an elephant's trunk dangling out to the audience or a soccer ball whizzing by our heads.
Born to be Wild was photographed at a safe haven for orphaned elephants in Kenya -- where more than 200 have been rescued and raised -- and one in Borneo for orangutans.
The elephants have been orphaned by ivory poachers, and the orangutans have been orphaned because their mothers were killed as their natural habitats were overrun by exploiters.
Birute Mary Galdikas in Borneo with the orangutans and Daphne Sheldrick in Kenya with the elephants have been the "fairy godmothers" for the two species.
Born to be Wild is given further credibility by the patented mellifluous narration by Morgan Freeman. The script by Drew Fellman is a little heavy on lovefest, but the direction by David Lickey beautifully captures the spirit of the animals and the land.
In Born to be Wild, the milk of human kindness nourishes the animals.
And the audience.
For a change of pace, you might want to listen to interviews that I conducted in the 70s and 80s, some of which were published in my book Voices from the Set: The Film Heritage Interviews (2000).
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