Grey Owl (1999) Poster

(1999)

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7/10
Description of the film, with thoughts on the real Grey Owl.
Jos.Rock24 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This docu-drama is what you would expect from Richard Attenborough, the man who gave us "Gandhi": beautifully photographed, compellingly casted, well written in the measured, literate manner that Hollywood discarded in the 30's, and scrupulously accurate. It stands out as a genre film, excelling in its portrayal of native American (or, more appropriately for its Canadian setting, "First Nations") culture and standing with "Black Robe" as a wonderfully photographed piece of Canoe Country and its culture (here, circa 1934). This idyllic portrait derives drama from its subject: Archie "Grey Owl" Belaney, a Scot raised in Hastings (England) by maiden aunts who became so obsessed with the "red indian" tales of his childhood that he went to Canada, disappeared into the woods, and became a trapper and adopted son of an Ojibway band. He was a vain man with a habit of marrying and abandoning

Indian brides, none of whom seem to have thought less of him for it, for he was also an extraordinarily charming and picaresque character. One of his wives (one smarter than he, by most accounts) propelled him into fame as a writer and early advocate for protecting the wild country of the North, and this forms the focus of Attenborough's tale. The chemistry between Brosnan and Annie Galipeau (as Grey Owl's wife Pony) is engaging and, if not firey, is nonetheless quite touching. A good film when you need some time from the madding crowd.
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10/10
Simply Superb is what I call Grey Owl
tazcat3922 June 2002
I saw this movie on the Hallmark Channel and thought it was wonderful, especially since it was based on a true man. Pierce Brosnan was very good as the loner English man who took on the persona of the half breed Grey Owl. The photography was beautiful.

This movie made me do more research into this character Archie Belaney known simple as Grey Owl. I want to read as much as I can about him. At the time I did not know Richard Attenborough had directed it. But I am not surprised. I like all his movies whether he is acting or directing. I gave it the highest rating. However, I would have liked to have seen more in the movie about WHY he took on this persona as it only showed the two aunts who raised him and his room in their house.

You can't go wrong with this movie if you are like me and enjoy a beautiful story without hearing foul language and contrived special effects every few minutes.
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Worthy and graceful
MartPol21 October 2000
I saw the British premiere of this in Bridgend, South Wales - Richard Attenborough was met with generous applause, his film with polite applause. It is a film equally of the heart and of the head, with emotions and affecting performances never quite being allowed to get in the way of the beautiful photography.

Charming in its own way and with a fascinating tale to tell, Grey Owl never quite gets fired up in the same way as historical rivals like Braveheart and Titanic. And this, possibly shamefully, probably just ironically, would seem to be due to the very thing that Attenborough is keen to sell his own movie on - its lack of violence, action, sex and, above all, excitement.

Still, a graceful and involving film - one which deserves the tag 'worthy' more than many others.
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Would-a-be or White Indians
springhiler21 November 2006
To the Native People, this movie is about what some call a "would-a-be" or "White Indian"; although the Ojibway people, whom Gray Owl's life turns o not use the word "Indian" but "Anishnabe" which means a good person. Gray Owl as an white and wanting to live the native way, is called a "White Indian".

This movie shows him living on and around Bear Island, in Northern Ontario. Gray Owl, shows us his view of their life through his eyes and explain how the northern Canadian native; has been changed by civilization. (trapping,hunting and tourism as in the scene where the "War dance" is performed after a hat-passing collection) It is also an interesting documentary of how the Canadian beaver became a part of the 5 cent coin; as the story advances into how Gray Owl worked to conserve and even reinstate this animal which was endangered from over trapping.

The story is beautiful told to us who know and live the savage life of the Northern wilderness and how beautiful it is to return to the basic of nature and leave problems of civilization behind.

The scene of most important, to me, also a white Indian, is when Gray Owl meets the Americian Chiefs and they all laugh at the blue-eyed would-a-be Indian. But the quote of the chief was how it did not matter the color of one skin but the color of one's heart.

Everyone should have a dream, but if a Gray Owl we can live this dream it is beautiful.. Another similar and great movie of this type is "The return of a Man called Horse" with Richard Harris.

A lot can be learned from this movie.. even now after I have visited the area and met the people, I still see great lessons. (for example, Gray Owls friend is an Cree and shown this native group,living with the Ojibway on Bear Island.

Interesting off-side of this film is a recent development of an Australian who just finished a summer on Bear Island after wanting to learn about the source of this film. "Broken Arrow - A white Indian"
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8/10
A Good, Unique Film, at a Pastoral Pace
barnyard1 October 1999
Pierce Brosnan will probably be the only thing familiar in Richard Attenborough's new biopic. The rest is new to international audiences: Canadian history and First Nations Culture.

"Grey Owl" is a light examination of how an man came to be adopted into the Ojibway of Northern Ontario, learning and preaching environmentalism decades before it became politically correct to do so. The film contains a love story, a moral message, and a man tortured by his past. That torture, though, is not always brought to life with the dramatic impact that it might.

Nevertheless, it is a film which holds its audience without any violence. It pays deep respect to Canada's First Nations, and presents them in a dignified and non-stereotypical manner. Brosnan's performance is somewhat stiff, but I suspect that's just how Lord Attenborough wanted him.

Thanks from a proud Canadian.
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8/10
I found this film to be intriguing.
Stacie-519 May 2000
I know some people think the movie is boring but I disagree. It is a biography of a very complex and extraordinary person. I liked the characters in the film and think that leaving parts of Archie's life a mystery captured his humanity. I don't think the purpose of a good biography should be the detailing of someone's life but rather the complexities and relationships that make them interesting. And what is more fascinating than someone so successfully reinventing themselves? "Men become what they dream - you have dreamed well." Good job to Lord Attenborough. I also wanted to mention that Nathaniel Arcand really stood out to me as a charismatic actor and I hope to see him in more films.
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9/10
This was an interesting, heartfelt film
momsaidjr4 January 2000
This film is a wonderful movie based on the life of a man called Grey Owl in 1930s Canada. I found it to be similarly riveting and heartfelt as 'Rudy' and 'Awakenings'. It picks up late in Grey Owl's life and follows him through his most tumultuous and influential period.

The film is about a Canadian Indian trapper who finds himself promoting the plight of the over-trapped Beaver. He also predicts the decrease in natural lands and the overuse of Earth's resources. This is an outrageous concept in the 1930s and surprisingly well received. He becomes a well known speaker and the masses are ready to listen.

The casting of Pierce Brosnan seems rather odd, but is not outrageous. Anyone wanting to argue that point must first watch the movie to understand. Brosnan provides a wonderful performance as does Annie Galipeau. Galipeau is a strong actress whose place beside Brosnan is refreshingly natural compared to the forced pairings in recent Bond films.

I would recommend this film to anyone interested in good drama, beautiful scenery, or environmental causes. It is a movie for families as well, however children under 10 (depending on maturity) would have trouble following the plot.
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7/10
A beautiful hymn to the Nature...
shatguintruo30 April 2000
Richard Attenborough who already given us magnific films as "A Chorus Line" and "Gandhi", once more surprise us making a beautiful hymn to the Nature. Indeed, the vast and (in that time) unexplored territory of Canada helps to compose the stunning beauty of the landscapes picked up by the motion picture camera. If the movie is really based on a true story, once more becomes evidente that "men of vision" are, in truth, men that lives beyond their time, with a historical perspective that only the Time will give them reason. The cinematography is magnificient, such as the cast lead by Pierce Brosnan, whose performance is due to Attenborough's master hands. A pleasing surprise is the appearance of Annie Galipeau in the role of Archie's beloved. Movie that must appears in a list of those who really loves the Nature...
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7/10
A story worth telling
Alfonse8 December 1999
All in all a good film and better for the fact that had the film not been made the story might remain hidden to the masses. Brosnan does a good job as the native American with a hidden past and the photography is stunning. To some, this may be too whimsical, to others boring - for me it is a gentle, well-told tale and perfect for family viewing. Now that's not something you get a lot of recently.
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9/10
GREY OWL AN UNEXPECTED GEM!
blue-719 August 2001
Recently I was looking for the newly issued Wide Screen DVD of FLY AWAY HOME and came upon interesting title that I had never heard of: GREY OWL. The fact that it was a Richard Attenborough Film caught my attention (he responsible for such fine films as GANDHI, CHAPLIN, and SHADOWLANDS). I noticed that the screenplay was by William Nicholson (author of SHADOWLANDS). This "Special Edition" was full of interesting sounding material and the price was just under $10.00 -- so I chanced it & bought it. WOW! What a beautiful film. Pierce Brosnan stars as Archie Grey Owl, a real life trapper in the 1930s, who came to love and respect the wild lands of Canada, and worked to help protect them. Brosnan (who starred in a James Bond film) gives a shaded, warm, powerful performance as does Annie Galipeau as the young woman who loves and influences his feeling for the creatures of the land -- especially the beaver. A fine score by George Fenton (THE CRUCIBLE) and beautiful photograhy by Roger Pratt add greatly to the effectiveness of the film. AND the extras on this DVD are something else! Includes two shorts made in the 1930s with the real Grey Owl as well as audio commentary tracks by Attenborough and Producer Jake Eberts; 2 Featurettes; and many other fine additions PLUS options for those having access to a PC with DVD-ROM features. GREY OWL has been released directly to DVD in the United States -- a fact that Richard Attenborough attributes to Hollywood's lack of interest in distributing something that isn't loaded with a lot of violence and sex. This is a film that not only informs and entertains but leaves you with something to think about. I had a very warm feeling at the films conclusion -- and a whole new love and understanding for beavers! GREY OWL is a very fine film -- worth checking out! This is one I look forward to sharing with others.
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Buckskin beatitudes
eelpie30 May 2001
The only way a writer could present the conservationist case in the economic slump of the 1930s was by masquerading as primitive man. The story of Grey Owl is a fresh angle on the 20th century's game with the image and reality of the American native. He is also a case study in the way the UK mass media build up celebrities only to tear them down, like the old pagan gods of the year. His story also vibrates with the long-hairs of the 1960s, who had never heard of him, but found the identical vocation. If you don't care about that, this is a fine love story, and account of an identity crisis, in which a man resigns his pride to his woman, only to find that he has won the throne of her heart.
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8/10
This is a wonderful movie, with a great theme and great scenery.
jgphoenix10 September 2000
The movie is wonderful. It shows the man's work for the wilderness and a natural understanding of the harmony of nature, without being an "extreme" naturalist. I definitely plan to look for the book. This is a rare treasure!
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7/10
Slow moving but MOVING .
chazij28 May 2000
We viewed the vcr and found it to be fascinating. Not knowing anything about this true story, I thought: "Oh, no, P.Brosnan as an American Indian ('red' Indian in the film), what a bad choice" until I discovered the truth about Grey Owl. The film does a good job of demonstrating the dignity of these native peoples and undermining the racist myths about them. And Annie Galipeau, WOW, what a beauty, and very convincing as an Indian woman (I believe she is French-Canadian; she sure reverts to the all-too familiar speech of such). In spite, of Brosnan's detached, grunting style, in the end he comes through convincingly as a passionate, dedicated man. The plot is a little weak in demostrating his conversion from trapper to animal coservationist. Good film, highly recommended.
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10/10
Terrific movie, there should be more movies on the American Indian.
mb285 March 2000
There should be more movies about our Native Americans. I especially think that using actual real Native Americans, would be the the right thing. I know that this Archie Belaney, who was played by Pierce Brosnan he did an excellent job in portraying that character, since he was an Englishman. But my suggestion to Hollywood, is to put more American Indians into the roles, and never use anyone else. The Sioux Nation has been put on the back burner far too long. Their poverty is a disgrace to our country. It is my firm belief that our country should return the Black Hills to the Sioux. We ask Israel to return their lands to the Arabs, but we do not make any effort to do the same, we should be ashamed of ourselves. We must practice what we preach!
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7/10
Grey Owl is the hole in the doughnut.
slofstra26 May 2001
The movie is more about Pony than Grey Owl. It's also about aboriginals, Canada, the English, Grey Owl's aunts and the North Bay Nugget. Excellent story.

This is an excellent movie, more like a book, that raises interesting questions about cultural identity and values. The key scene is Grey Owl admitting his imposture to Pony and her reaction.

A few observations on the user ratings. Note that the user ratings are bi-polar clustering at 5 and 7; it's not for everyone, but has a strong following. This movie is underrated and overlooked but will be noticed for years to come. Also, few women have watched the movie but they rate it more highly than men. Has it been marketed properly?
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8/10
Grey Owl was real to me
alfred-crowley29 December 2005
Radio was not a 24 hour 7days a week happening when I grew up in the 1930s England, so Children's Hour was a treat for me when we had batteries and an accumulator to spare for the power. The few programmes I heard therefore made a great impression on my young mind, and the 3 that I recall still are "Toytown", one about all the animals at the Zoo, and --- Grey Owl, talking about the animals he knew, which he called his "brothers". It was only in recently that I learnt that Grey Owl wasn't a genuine "Indian", but the tribute paid by the Sioux Chief makes great sense to me "A man becomes what he dreams". Would that we could all dream as world changing and beneficial as Archie Grey Owl Belaney. Would that a new Grey Owl could influence world leaders to clean up the environment.
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Good central performance and lovely to look at but rather plodding in the telling
bob the moo22 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Archie Grey Owl had a Scottish mother but he had an Indian father and was raised as such. As an adult in the 1930's he continues to live as his people did – something that draws the interest of Pony, a woman who is looking for her roots having been brought up in the city. She joins him to experience this for herself and gradually finds herself falling in love with him. She convinces him to give up trapping and gets him on the side of conversation and preservation. Gradually his writing and speaking brings him to a world audience and threatens to reveal secrets he himself has denied for years.

When this film came out in the cinema it looked a bit dull and I, like many others, decided not to bother with it. On television I gave it a try and, despite having just about enough going for it to watch, I must admit that my initial impressions were spot on because this is a film that takes its time to really go nowhere. The story is basically that a man raised the importance of conservation to an international level but he was not an Indian as he claimed – and that's pretty much it. Given that we already known the man is not an Indian (not a spoiler – it is a true story and he is played by Bond!) then it is more a matter of waiting for the characters to find out and see what happens. Meanwhile we have lots of gorgeous landscapes and lots of messages about conservation. When the secrets come out, they come out slowly and without fanfare – continuing to make the film feel a little dull and empty.

Brosnan tries hard with a person that the script doesn't really get to the heart of and he does manage to give a good performance even if his dialogue is occasionally a bit too preachy and obvious for my liking. Galipeau is a real problem because she is as wooden as the forests around her and she barely has any chemistry with Brosnan. The support cast are OK but really the film is about Brosnan and it is to his credit that he kept me watching considering how little he had to work with. The direction is as slow and deliberate as the story but this seems to suit the tone of the script and certainly works well with the cinematography and landscapes.

Overall though the film is simply too empty and plodding to really hit the spot. No fuss is made about the secret life – surprisingly considering this seemed to be its main thrust; instead the film looks at Archie himself and is frustrated by how guarded he is (both in reality and the film), again making it drag a bit. In the end large sections just looked good and had a vague conservationist "to thine own self be true" message but not a great deal else. Watchable but requires patience.
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4/10
When the Wild west turned into Canadian Parks.
Thunderwoman11 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This film was made in Saskatchewan and Manitoba Parks and returned the world eye again to what little of the "Wild Western Canada" is left. When Archie began to write his stories for the papers; the thought of the day was to tame the wilderness and convert/absorb the First Nation Peoples.

The film puts forward and asks the question; why would a well-educated, obviously talented Englishman become an Indian?

Archie, as an English boy dreams about becoming something but grasping the full meaning of that dream is unique and priceless - no mater what it is. Sounds like a famous puppet story doesn't it.

In my opinion, I saw Archie become my living image of the "Cigar store Indian" a very wooden character and not real at all - very well done acting on the part of Mr. Brosnan. He also portrayed the wild Indian in the dance scene for the tourist. The fullness and or reality of it weren't realized till he met and married his wife, Annie.

Annie pushed Archie in a direction that would bring him to the forefront of the Englishman's world stage, not as himself but Grey Owl -an Canadian Native of the wilderness frontier.

This is the closest Archie get to becoming the noble savage prototype.

Mr. Brosnan's interpretation as well as the directors is both well done. I have watched documentaries on Grey Owl and I think this is a good big screen movie to add to my collection.

Spoiler - I thought the final scenes with Archie going to meet the Grand Council of Chiefs was a great a great moment in the film.

Very beautiful Canadian lake scenery and real "Grey Owl" locations.
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10/10
fantastic movie that I had never seen even one ad for
driveinm17 January 2000
amazing movie I saw this movie for the first time on a flight and could not believe that I had not even heard of it before getting on that plane. while it may seem, at first to be a "chick flick", it is a film that everyone should see and will enjoy. Men, watch this movie with someone you love. You will enjoy it as much as she does and it will score you big points.
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9/10
A Classic!
rocallie4 October 1999
If you know the story of Grey Owl, you'll love the movie! Annie Galipeau is a great actress, and Pierce is better than never in Grey Owl. But in this movie there's no real scene of action. I think this movie should be nominated at the Oscars! Welll go see this movie, it's A CLASSIC!
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8/10
Rambo lovers, beware.
jahfre25 December 2006
This film is wonderful in every way that modern action adventures are not. Take some time. Relax, enjoy. Think. People who see this movie as slow or plodding or dull really need to take a week off and watch it several times until their short attention span mind comes to grips with the possibility of being involved with a cause or even beautiful story in a beautiful place for no other reason than because it isn't hurrying to make the points you so emphatically need it to make in the short time alloted. At first I was apprehensive of Brosnan playing a native American. Given the story line though, I think it was apt casting. Now, back to my hermiting. -Jahfre
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For Nature Lovers
hauser196827 January 2001
Saw this movie on VHS. Relaxing movie with wonderful scenery. Grey Owl wrote many books. I plan on getting some of them. Brosnan does a great job, after all the charactor is supposed to be English. It shows the irony in the beliefs of non-Indians. Should be of interest to people who care out ecology.
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10/10
One of the movies, closest to the nature and it's serenity itself.
adis-35 November 2004
Here, on IMDb.com I read an opinion, that Grey Owl is best character of Pierce Brosnan ever performed. I do not know if he had better nor worse roles, I'm not his fan, but this one was really exceptional.

The other thing - impressive hand of the movie director. I give my respect. The serenity, the beauty and spirit of wilderness was illustrated really exlusively, I never met such proximity it in any movie before.

Another thing left in my mind after the film - this is the movie, closest to the original books, and atmosphere in it.

And little bit more. I pay my respect to the original Grey Owl.
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8/10
Surprising
Chinook-325 January 2001
I didn't expect much when I first saw the DVD cover. I mean, Pierce Brosnan as Grey Owl??

Ah...but then the story got underway, unfolded in a beautifully photographed and paced film. I was surprised and delighted at this (basically) true story. Made me want to read more about this fascinating character, which means, the director fulfilled his purpose, and the film was a success!
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Touching and well done
kestrel-96 March 2000
Richard Attenborough has directed a beautiful picture. If you are accustomed to seeing Brosdan as 007, this is a real departure. But he played the role with subtly and sensitivity.

This story is based on a real with a message that is an important one, then and now.
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