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BMZ Review: Born to Be Wild
By Ross Anthony


Orphan Rescue in Africa and Indonesia
Written by: Ross Anthony
Source: Ross Anthony's Hollywood Report Card
Date: July 21, 2011


Category: Reviews

Born to be Wild is an endearing collection of large-format, 3D images comprised of baby African elephants in Kenya, and Indonesian orangutans in Borneo. What soul among us wouldn't be melted by the vulnerable and innocent eyes of these orphaned animals?

Technically speaking, the Kenya images are far superior to those shot by the Indonesian unit. In fact, though the content is equally loveable, the Indonesian footage is pixelated and jittery. Any movement of the camera or subject faster than a leisurely, human walking pace gets broken up on the big screen into a series of stop-and-go frames. These are telltale signs of inferior, digital, origin capture and/or doctoring. Again, I'm being technical here, digital video is a great tool, but it's not quite as good as real 70mm large format film capture -- not yet. But to be fair, likely 90% of the viewing audience will either simply not notice these imperfections, or deem them harmless in comparison to the beautiful animal photography.

Overall, it's a lovely film that's never boring. It hosts gobs of adorable animal-human interaction shots. The 3D is not solid, but neither is it bad. Nor does it rattle the cage of the big screen. And while I enjoyed this documentary on the large screen, I'm not convinced it necessarily demands this format.

The film takes us into the forests of Borneo, and the savannahs of Kenya, squarely focusing on the efforts of two extraordinary woman to help the defenseless young of these two species as poaching or deforestation claims their habitats and/or parents.  Dame Daphne Sheldrick says, "The elephants helped me turn a page in my life, I want to do the same for them." Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas says, "If you put a baby orangutan on the ground it will not stop screaming. They are literally pulled off their dead mother's body when they are captured. They know no other place than in her arms or on her back."

Top three moving moments: 1. A Borneo helper sings a whispered lullaby to a sleepy orangutan while rubbing his tummy. His little eyelids slowly fall over appreciative eyes. 2. The day has come to be released into the wild, the cramped cage door swings open in front of the bewildered eyes of an unsure orangutan. (Perhaps the insecurity of freedom is universal.) 3. Grown, wild, x-orphan elephants arrive to welcome growing orphans into their humanless world.

Wide open, aerial shots add perspective and richness. I especially liked the shot over the rainforest's river tracking a narrow wooden boat with precious cargo returning to untamed territories.

While grownups will likely understand that these young "once wild" animals have taken peacefully to their human caretakers, children may imagine that any wild elephant or monkey poses no threat to humans. Surprisingly, the film offers no warning or qualification for all the animal love it portrays. So, don't forget to caution your kids. These animals can be dangerous.


Copyright © 1998-2011. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: For Adult & Teen Novels written by Ross Anthony visit:

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Born to Be Wild 3D by Ann Coates

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