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When humans face the loveliness and miracles of nature, something truly awesome appears in our perceptions. In such moments of delight only heart can speak. And something so vivid, touching and surprising evokes whilst viewing the most captivating documentaries about natural world. And yet, documentary is, in many cases, still a 'docu' filled with scientific facts. In contrast, imagine a film about animals when they are 'protagonists' themselves and seem to 'behave' before cameras. THE MEERKATS, directed by James Honeyborne, has hardly appeared to me as a sheer documentary but a feature film. With its viewing experience and the haunting voice of Paul Newman, I felt like highlighting my emotions and sharing the captivating feast for the heart with my friend whom I am grateful to for owning that little treasure in my film gallery.
The Kalahari in South Africa, the land of dry seasons, the land of thirst and wild animals that sometimes break the balance of nature. The Kalahari is the land where 'every sunset is a victory for those who have a chance to glimpse it.' In between the harsh wilderness of this 'land of the giants' live lovely tiny creatures, the Meerkats, who seem to 'understand' that 'staying close' to one another is an intuitive maxim of their lives. There are moments when hard conditions force them to do what they would not do normally. The absorbing mutual 'war dance' against invaders supply the viewers with unforgettable emotions. Besides, is there a lesson for those tiny creatures of how to manage in heat when droughts kill any hope for survival and enemies that attack constantly? And what are the gravely dangerous enemies?
The patient cobra that knows no time and no mercy....
The enormous eagle whose wings and strength give him possibilities that may be merely a dream to many other creatures...
The lion, king among all who may also lack intelligence and tiny Meerkats may trick him when they are good students of their ancestors...
What else can help them avoid the drama if not keeping together in family?
Being one of the Meerkats is a pride of little photogenic Kolo, the protagonist of the absorbing 80 minute-story that keeps even the skeptical viewer stunned in the chair.. Kolo's growth to become an adult and the adventure of being taught necessary skills by his brother is the major highlight of his existence within the helpful community. Although his brother is a supreme teacher for him, there will come a day when there is no more 'brother' no more 'teacher' but Kolo will be forced to experience the very essence of the Kalahari. Will he grow up to become the teacher himself, the teacher for a new generation of Meerkats? Indeed, there is much he needs to learn, much loneliness and obstacles he needs to overcome...Yet, the promised day comes for the brave, honest and the determined at last.
Thanks to the great contribution and tremendous efforts from the crew, including James Honeyborne's direction, Barrie Briton's cinematography, and Sarah Class's use of local music that resembles the rhythms of the land, the visual, aesthetic and artistic impressions are highly worth attention. The producers do a marvelous job in winning the 'trust' of the animals. Kolo touches our hearts and makes us empathize with him to an extent as one of the most genuine protagonist could do. But not only him but a number of Meerkats that trust humans, are so playful and natural before cameras, who share with us (in such a genuine manner) the circle of their lives, including the joyful moments, the hard working moments, the dramatic moments.
THE MEERKATS is one of the most interesting documentaries I have seen about sweet animals that easily win our hearts. A gorgeous experience to be so close to nature, so close to the tiny creatures whose lives are filled with interesting interactions and constant mutual existence. So close to the miracle that Lord God has given to humanity through nature governed by its own rights but constantly creative, opening to all of us new horizons of seeing and learning from the little creatures. Also a lovely stimulus to understand the importance to protect the tiny ones. Stunning experience
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