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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Excellent but heart wrenching

Author: Alan Yim ( from Edmonton, Alberta Canada
19 March 2000

Documentary type films have always been tricky to make. They're not always about topics that mass audiences find interesting but there have been some relative successes (Gorillas in the Mist). "To Walk with Lions" is another one of these documentary type movies. Before I proceed, I apologize if this review has a sombre feel to it. It is one of the few movies I've seen this year that has had such an impact on me. It's been about 30 minutes since I've left the theatre and I'm sitting here in a coffee shop writing this but I find myself still thinking about the events of this movie.

The film is based on the true life accounts of George Adamson and Tony Fitzjohn. George Adamson (played by Richard Harris) is a wildlife conservationist in Kenya that specializes in the re-release of lions back into the wild. Tony Fitzjohn (played by John Michie) is a drifter that floats from job to job in Africa and somehow ends up being hired as Adamson's assistant. This chance encounter turned out to change Fitzjohn's life forever. The story focuses on Adamson's plight of running his lion release program and the politics involved during a time when the Kenyan government is in a state of unrest. The film shows the relationship that evolves between Adamson and Fitzjohn and does so through the eyes of Fitzjohn. This particular movie focuses on the time from when Fitzjohn is hired to when Fitzjohn takes over Adamson's life work in 1989, a span of 18 years. There is very little about the actual release program itself but rather focuses on Adamson as a person and what plights he faces. Thrown in this mix, is the problem that Adamson faces as the Kenyan government threatens to shut down his operations and put and end to his program. He must deal with this issue as well as handle poaching problems occurring in the area.

There have been many movies made in or about Africa but this film has a very different feel to it. Gone are the bright colors and crystal clear pictures. This film truly has the feel of a documentary. It is frequently very dusty and the actors always seemed to be covered in dirt and grime. In addition, the picture is not always in focus (either that or the dust swirls around so much that it dulls everything) that it adds an element of reality to the movie. You can almost feel the grit in your mouth.

Richard Harris plays Adamson wonderfully and he looks amazingly similar to the real Adamson. As to how accurately he portrays the real Adamson, I don't know but his actual acting performance was incredible. This is the first time I have ever seen Harris but he definitely puts his best foot forward. John Michie plays Fitzjohn equally well and the audience gets a real sense of respect and admiration from him as his relationship with Adamson develops. What makes these performances all the more impressive is that most of the scenes with the lions are done with both actors and lions together in the same shot...and in close proximity to each other. Some of the mauling scenes looking amazingly real too...maybe a bit too real. Some of the other scenes with other animals are quite graphic too and a bit on the hard side to watch. The introduction of Adamson's wife, Joy was a bit weak. It wasn't fully developed and left a lot of questions. From what I know of their relationship, it seemed to be closer than what was portrayed but I'm not expert so I can't really comment on that part of it but in my opinion, they could have removed Joy Adamson's involvement in this movie and it would have been just as effective.

Overall, I thought this movie was fantastic but you leave the theatre with a heavy heart. The lions are real and the reactions to them seem genuine. It is a bit graphic in some cases but it is definitely worth the time to see. Keep in mind that this is based on real life accounts of both George Adamson and Tony Fitzjohn and therefore doesn't mean that the ending is going to be happy. In fact, it leaves you thinking about a lot of things that we as a human race allow to occur. > A

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A stunning account of the life of George Adamson, the lion man.

Author: Kyle Milligan ( from Toronto, Canada
20 September 1999

Director Carl Schultz has made an extraordinary film with the help of some vastly talented and brave actors who overcame their fears to work with lions in Africa.

"To Walk With Lions" was featured in the 1999 Toronto International Film Festival and presented by the director, some actors and producers of the film, all of whom should be very proud of a triumphant and majestic film. The landscapes are magnificent and breathtaking, and prove to be an intriguing backdrop to an even more intriguing man who became something of a legend in our time.

Thirty years ago, "Born Free" told the story of the Adamsons from its inception. This film carries on their story it until its tragic end in the late eighties. It mostly concerns the wildlife preserve "Kora", run by George Adamson, played incredibly by the wonderful and distinguished Richard Harris.

The troubles in Africa continue even still as the corrupt Kenyan government and poachers prevail in the slaughter of the African wildlife, threatening extinction without much concern for the consequences. The story is told through the eyes of Tony Fitzjohn, as played by John Michie. Fitzjohn continues the Adamson crusade to preserve wildlife and rehabilitate lions from captivity back into the wild even today.

The film was followed by an interesting Q&A where it was revealed that the majority of scenes with lions were real, which is astonishing considering the close proximity to the actors in many of the sequences.

It would come as no surprise to me if this film was nominated for Oscars. If not, it would only be a testament to the high quality of the other nominees. When your opportunity presents itself, do not pass this one up.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Hot Naked Women! Action in the bush! Splendor in the grass!

Author: lastliberal from United States
26 September 2007

Maybe if they used different tag lines to advertise this movie, it would have greater appeal. While all of the above is true, it was a small part of a wonderful film about George Adamson (Richard Harris) and Tony Fitzjohn (John Michie).

Those familiar with Born Free know about Adamson. This film is about his life in Kenya after wards, and the relationship with Fitzjohn, who went on to do the same work in Tanzania.

It has a documentary feel throughout and absolutely stunning cinematography as they interact with the lions in the bush. It is sometimes bloody as the natives revolt, and the battle between men and animals will get your blood boiling, especially when Terrence (Ian Bannen) discovers his precious elephants destroyed by ivory poachers.

A film for all animal lovers, and an outstanding performance by Harris.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

A powerful performance by Richard Harris

Author: Muse-2 from Los Angeles, CA
7 June 1999

Richard Harris is amazing as George Adamson, an old man obsessed with returning captive lions to the wild in spite of poachers, politics and his own personal demons. Based on the life of George Adamson, Joy "Born Free" Adamson's husband, the movie has a flock of really great characters wonderfully played by all sorts of semi-stars (Ian Bannen, Geraldine Chaplin, etc.). I'd see it again.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Not really for kids

Author: dgaither from Mountain View, CA
22 February 2005

I enjoyed this film very much. My granddaughter who is 12 couldn't get through it. Because it is about George Adamson, of Born Free fame, you may be tempted to get this as a movie for the family to watch together. It's real appeal is to those of us past a certain age where we begin to think about the end of life as much as about the beginning. Richard Harris is incredible in this film as a man who refuses to let the changes time has wrought on his part of Africa or his body make him compromise any of his principles. This film will make you believe he has a spiritual connection to the lions, that lions are closer to humans than we'd like to admit. George Adamson is a much more interesting character in this movie than in the Born Free movies. The photography of Africa is spectacular, the scenes of poaching heartbreaking. This is a grown up movie about grown up issues, but it is not an unrelenting downer. It will probably inspire you to do something a little more important with the time you have left.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A triumphant biographical film.

Author: Jonathon Dabell ( from Todmorden, England
22 August 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To Walk With Lions is a true story, based on the final few years in the life of the lion-lover George Adamson. Film buffs will remember that the film Born Free also dealt with the experiences of the Adamson's (George and wife Joy, in fact) earlier in their life, but where that film almost qualified as a feel-good children's film, this one is resolutely not so, tainted with tragedy and violence.

The action is perceived through the eyes of a young British drifter, Fitzjohn (John Michie) who arrives at George Adamson's African lion sanctaury after fleeing from a run-down town where he caused a fight. Fitzjohn is introduced to George Adamson (majestic Richard Harris), now a reclusive, opinionated and weathered old man in his eighties (long since separated from wife Joy) and his elephant-loving brother Terence Adamson (Ian Bannen). Before long, Fitzjohn has grown to love the lions and understand their habits almost as much as Adamson, but the Kenyan officials are determined to pull the plug on Adamson's work. Fitzjohn tries to persuade him to leave the sanctuary he has set up, and to move to a newer, freindlier environment in Tanzania, but Adamson refuses to go and is ultimately murdered for his stubbornness.

This is a moving film, helped by truly superb acting (hard to believe the Academy Awards overlooked some of these performances). The photography of the African landscapes is jaw dropping. The story sticks closely to reality, but although most viewers will know the outcome before the film even begins, the sadness of George Adamson's murder still comes across powerfully in the film's heart-breaking climax. Harris, Bannen, Michie and Kerry Fox as an Oxford graduate who becomes involved in their struggle give commanding performances. There are memorable guest appearances by Honor Blackman (as Joy Adamson) and Geraldine Chaplin (as George's old flame) too. There are no real weaknesses with this film. It's just a wonderful film, well worth two hours(ish) of anybody's time.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Africans need someone like George Adamson to speak for them

Author: ianlouisiana from United Kingdom
16 August 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From Frank Machin to Marcus Aurelius,Richard Harris has hidden behind various accents,mannerisms and eccentricities for so many years that it came as a bit of a shock to discover that,when the mood was on him,he could still produce an honest and revealing performance.As George Adamson the pioneer wildlife preservationist he has cut to the bare bones and given us a wilful,stubborn shambling wreck of a man who refuses to accept that he has grown old - a thirty year old in an 80 year old's body. Grumbling,misanthropic,tunnel - visioned,Harris's Adamson is not an easy man to like,but,unlike many of his former characterisations,he is a totally believable one. "To walk with lions" is a "warts and all" portrait of an Africa riven with internal strife and careless of the fate of it's wildlife.Game poachers bribe or intimidate Wardens,rebel "soldiers" rape and murder at will whilst Adamson's Reserve seems an oasis of hope,reason and enlightenment. It could,if you were terribly non PC,be taken as representing the last outpost of the Empire,but of course I'm sure that was not the filmmakers'intention. Ordered by the Kenyan government to quit,Adamson,predictably,digs his heels in,and the scene is set for a confrontation he is not going to win. Stubborness is the feature all the main characters share.Adamson's brother,a man not converted to the cause of the lions ("..the elephant - now "THERE'S an animal!"),his new assistant,Byronic drifter Fitzjohn,mauled by a lion,shot at by poachers,beaten up by soldiers,he still persists in his aim to move Adamson's Reserve to Namibia,and Lucy, Anthropologist and Fitzjohn's partner - in -resolve to continue Adamson's work, they share a steely determination to fulfill their self - allotted tasks. Honor Blackman appears in a small part as Joy Adamson and certainly seizes her moment.Geraldine Chaplin arrives towards the end as Adamson's former mistress .In attempting to rescue her from a rebel ambush he is shot to death. Uncomfortable questions are asked about Africa's future and the future of its wildlife,but with the current genocide in Darfur and strife and unrest in so many other states,it is apparent that the country's leaders may have more on their minds than saving a few animals.From their point of view it may well be a matter of priorities. I was disturbed by this movie,left with an overwhelming feeling of gloom over the fate of millions of my fellow human beings.What they need is someone like George Adamson to speak for them.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A superb film!

Author: Mufasa-3
21 January 2001

This film is very true to actual happenings toward the end of George's life. He was a remarkable man and this movie is very well done indeed. It is funny, sad, heart wrenching and just a wonderful film to watch. I I know I am going to have to watch the story of Elsa If I can find it. I have read the bon free series as well as the biography of George by Gareth Patterson (who somehow was left out of this story including the 3 new cubs that George received just before his murder).

The film also shows the true situation in Africa of the cruel slaughter of animals and the systematic corruption that plagues the governments.

A truly inspiring movie, everyone should watch.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Criminal how it suffered a limited first release

Author: standish77 from Toruń, Poland
12 May 2001

All I can say about this movie! Its a fascinating retelling of the later years in George Adamson's incredible life. Richard Harris is a spitting image of the ageing Adamson and the supporting cast (particularly the late Ian Bannen) are excellent. There is nothing to fault with this absolute classic! Its criminal why this film suffered a very limited release. Hopefully it will do a Shawshank Redemption and enjoy the praise it deserves, now its out on video.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Impressive movie, Great Old Lion.

Author: maxetormer from Mexico
13 January 2007

Impressive movie, the best I have seen about Africa, the characters are very well developed, Its inspiring what people can achieve when they really put their minds to work and their hearts are on the right frequency :D

The way in which the actor playing George Adamson (Richard Harris) interacts with the lions looks very natural, almost as if the actor borrowed the soul of an old lion while performing, he left me with an intense feeling of wonder, I'm a fine arts painter, and the expressions, landscapes, and overall feel of the movie would do for some truly impressive paintings, so much that I feel the need to go to Africa one day to do sketches of lions and landscapes, a really compelling and powerful vision, my deepest respect to George Adamson and Richard Harris, the rest of the cast does an impressive job too, but some how I was very impressed by the performance of that old Man that Walked with Lions.

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