Married couple George Adamson and Joy Adamson have long lived in northern Kenya for George's work as the senior game warden of the region. One of George's primary responsibilities is to deal with dangerous animals that may be chronically threatening to humans, livestock and/or crops. It is in this vein that George and his staff end up killing a man eating lion and its lioness, resulting in their three young female cubs being orphaned. Although difficult to begin, George and Joy are able to wean and take care of the three cubs, who they adopt as pets. But soon, they know they have to provide a more suitable environment for the cubs, namely sending them to Rotterdam Zoo... that is except for the smallest, who they have named Elsa and to who Joy in particular has become attached as the emotional fighter among the three. As Elsa grows into lioness maturity, George and Joy provide her with greater freedom away from their property, which may get her into trouble as a largely tame animal. ...Written by
Despite the theme song subsequently becoming a classic, presenter Carl Foreman didn't like it, and removed it from the original British release of the film. After it reached the US charts in a cover version by pianist Roger Williams, Foreman saw its Oscar chances and reinstated the song. Matt Monro continued to sing it for the rest of his career. See more »
Before George has told Joy that he still has Elsa while they are driving back you can tell he isn't situated directly behind the steering wheel but rather a little to the left of it. Perhaps this is why the truck is shown swerving? See more »
[Joy cries sitting out on the hood of the truck as they ride in search of the young lioness]
Let's try this.
[2 shots ring out from his gun. George sees Elsa stumbling through the grass, approaching their vehicle]
all my nightmares had come true.
[Now Elsa rests in their tent as they argue over her]
...she can't make it. she can't think. she can't mix with her own kind... She can't do anything the wild animals do to survive. You've done too good a job on her. You've made her tame. It's too...
[...] See more »
True life story. George and Joy Adamson (Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna) live in the wilderness in Kenya. In self defense, George kills a lion and his mate only to find they were protecting their three cubs. He and his wife decide to raise the cubs. They give two of them away to zoos, but can't part with Elsa, a lioness. But then they realize they can't keep her and don't want to put her in a zoo. Can they help her live in the wild?
I read the book "Born Free" when I was in grammar school in the 70s and loved it. I also vaguely remember seeing the movie on TV (and liking it) and the very short-lived (13 episodes) series in the early 70s. Also the song was a big hit in the mid 60s and again in the early 70s. But I had forgotten all about it until it popped up on TCM. I decided to tune in and loved it!
The movie was shot beautifully on location in Kenya (where it took place). Wide screen viewing is essential for this one. Also, Travers and McKenna were a real-life couple when they did this film (in fact they remained married until his death in 1994) and there devotion to each other comes through loud and clear. Also the lions (male and female) are SO cute when they're cubs and even beautiful as they get older. Elsa herself was portrayed by a number of different lionesses but you can't tell the difference. And Travers and McKenna worked with all the animals for 2 weeks before filming so they all interact together perfectly. This is perfect family viewing--adults will adore it as much as the kids.
I'm only giving it a 7 for a few reasons--there isn't much of a story and the film DOES drag a little. Also the cute little shots of the cubs get a little bit much. Yeah they are adorable, but it got to the point that I thought the filmmakers were purposely shoving them in our faces to get us to go "awwwwwwww"! A little bit too cute for my tastes.
Still it's a great film and the music in this one is fantastic (and Oscar-winning). Also I defy anyone not to cry during the final sequence--it even got to me and I'm the last person to cry at movies like this.
A very good family film. See it!
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