LIVING FREE is the low budget sequel to the original African lion classic, BORN FREE. It says a lot that Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna didn't return for this follow-up, which casts Nigel Davenport and Susan Hampshire as the same characters before going on to tell the same story.
And boy, is this horrendous. All of the charm and originality of the first film is missing here, leaving LIVING FREE feeling like a cheap cash-in more than anything else. The early scenes feature some excruciating re-staging of scenes from the first movie but with the new actors, while the latter half tells a straightforward story in a long and protracted way.
The problem with this film lies with the actors, who just don't have the genuine love for the animals that the original cast members did. Particularly awful is Susan Hampshire, whose acting is embarrassingly awful: grating, overstated, sanctimonious when delivering her lines. Even worse, Millard Kaufman's screenplay presents Joy Adamson as a selfish, self-centred and quite obnoxious character who cares only for her own enjoyment, and I'm sure this is a disservice to the real-life Adamson.
The only decent scenes in this are the scenes of the lion cubs playing and interacting with the natural world, but even these moments are spoiled by Hampshire's plummy, say-the-obvious voice-overs. Although I like this 'animal' sub-genre and especially classics like RING OF BRIGHT WATER and BORN FREE, LIVING FREE is definitely worth skipping.
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