Fifty years ago there were close to half-a-million lions in Africa. Today there are around 20,000. To make matters worse, lions, unlike elephants, which are far more numerous, have virtually... Read allFifty years ago there were close to half-a-million lions in Africa. Today there are around 20,000. To make matters worse, lions, unlike elephants, which are far more numerous, have virtually no protection under government mandate or through international accords. This is the jump... Read allFifty years ago there were close to half-a-million lions in Africa. Today there are around 20,000. To make matters worse, lions, unlike elephants, which are far more numerous, have virtually no protection under government mandate or through international accords. This is the jumping-off point for a disturbing, well-researched and beautifully made cri de coeur from hus... Read all
'The Last Lions' did not disappoint. This is how to make a documentary that tells a emotionally wide-ranging and dramatic story and has animals worth rooting for, while mixing them with an uncompromising approach to the material, facts that educate and makes one think and affected emotionally and beautifully written and delivered narration. Actually think that 'The Last Lions' is one of the best examples of this mix in documentaries, some documentaries have failed such as 2019's 'Serengeti' and the recent DisneyNature 'Elephant' in this aspect but this one is an absolute winner.
Is it flawless? Not quite. The sequence between the mother and wounded cub went on for too long and was unnecessarily sadistic, even for a documentary that hardly sugar-coated its subject.
While loving the narration writing on the whole, we didn't need to be reminded so many times about what emotions the big cats were feeling. That did feel over-explanatory at times.
However, there is so much to recommend about 'The Last Lions'. It looks wonderful, with absolutely stunning scenery and photography worthy of cinema that adds so much to the emotions of many scenes. The music has a real presence and heft, especially in the more intense scenes, yet to me it didn't come over as too overwrought or like it was trying too hard to be anything more than needed. There are sympathetic parts in more intimate scenes.
Personally loved how the narration was written, it wasn't corny, it wasn't patronising (on the whole), it wasn't sugary. Instead it was uncompromisingly to the point (rightly so) but also honest, poetic and actually didn't take itself too seriously. It has a wide emotional range and has a good mix of the familiar and not so familiar. Irons' unmistakable gravitas-filled voice is a perfect fit, purring with authority and sincerity while clearly in awe and emotion over the material. While completely understanding why people feel that 'The Last Lions' to them came over as too dramatic and too humanised and that both were exaggerated, to me that wasn't the case apart from one already discussed sequence. The animals are so easy to root for here, their heart-breaking story really resonating, and feel incredibly real.
Ma Di Tau is a lionness every parent will identify with with a truly powerful story, the most rootable lionness on film since Elsa from 'Born Free'. The storytelling pulls no punches, appropriate actually seeing how the welfare of lions all the time has become increasingly dangerous, and absolutely heart-breaking, shocks and tears guaranteed throughout. Not just the plight of Ma Di Tau but also the quite chilling portrayal of unseen humans. Nothing cutesy or fuzzy about it, and nothing is sugar-coated or manipulative in my view. Despite being not an easy watch, there is definitely a glimmer of hope and it does leave one thinking hard about making a difference.
Overall, truly great. 9/10
- Nov 23, 2020