Born to Be Wild (2011)
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Freeman narrates the latest IMAX 3D documentary "Born to be Wild" by David Lickley (who also directed "Bears" and "Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees"). For a short 40 minutes Freeman does a first-rate job stirring up many emotions in the viewer. Well, he doesn't do it alone; he has some help from the adorableness of baby elephants and baby orangutans.
Before this film I would not be able to locate Borneo on a map very easily. Thanks to the clever direction by Lickley we see an interactive map of both Borneo and Kenya where our story is about to begin. We are also introduced to two women who have dedicated their lives to rescuing and adopting elephants and orangutans who have been orphaned because of the actions of mankind.
Daphne Sheldrick has set up an elephant sanctuary in Kenya; many of the elephants are there because poachers killed their parents (the release of this film could be really bad timing for the CEO of godaddy.com and his recent elephant hunting video). She raises the elephants with a team of zookeepers and is the only person to successfully raise an elephant from infant to adulthood.
We then travel to Borneo to see Birute Galdikas' sanctuary for orphaned orangutans. They have lost their homes and their parents due to man's rapid expansion into their territory.
In both cases we experience a cuteness factor that would overwhelm just about anyone with the warm fuzzies. We see the orangutans doing cute human-like behaviors such as drinking milk from soda bottles, bathing themselves and riding on the back of motorcycles. We also see the elephants drinking lots of milk from bottles, playing soccer and adapting to their human surroundings.
In the end, the captured animals are released back into the wild where they belong. The journey back home is guided by humans, the same species that orphaned them in the first place.
Should you see this movie? Yes, but only see it in the IMAX 3D format for its vibrant images of the animals and for some wonderful shots of both the African and Borneo landscapes. It's a seemingly flat story with not too many ups and downs or much conflict. If it weren't for the 3D this could have been a straight-to-DVD release.
I do understand that Lickley wanted us to realize that there is a threat of extinction for both of these species. However, we are not given any action steps at the end. I would at least expect a website address to pop up telling the viewers that they can do more to help these orphans.
Although I saw it on conventional DVD, since it was filmed in the Imax large format the detail is very good, better than most DVDs.
The story features two different scientists whose vocations are to save orphaned creatures, nurse them to an appropriate age, and turn them back to their natural habitats, thus "born to be wild."
In Kenya, orphaned young elephants, usually a result of illegal poaching (killing) of their mothers, need to be bottle-fed for several years, before joining a herd of more mature elephants.
In Borneo similarly orphaned baby Orangutans are cared for until they are old enough to be released into the wild to live on their own.
While the film has a "conservation" message running through it, a statement to reduce the destruction of native forests and stopping poaching, it wasn't a message hammered so much to detract from the enjoyment of the film.