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BMZ Review: Africa: The Serengeti
By Herb Lash

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BMZ Review of Africa: The Serengeti
Written by: Herb Lash
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: September 2002

     

Category: Reviews

There is a fundamental rule to the great seasonal migrations across the Serengeti plains. Everybody needs to eat - some eat grass, others eat grass-eaters. ALASKA, AMAZING JOURNEYS and AFRICA: THE SERENGETTI show director George Casey to be endlessly fascinated by cycles and struggles of survival. AFRICA: The Serengeti is brutal and beautiful as it tracks the journey of a food chain. There are elephants, giraffes, baboons, water buffalo, crocodiles and lions - the pictures speak for themselves, very little expository voice over is present or needed. Like in ALASKA, the viewer will feel a strange closeness to the animals on the Giant Screen - something more intimate and pure than a visit to the zoo can provide. The film is in effect an impossibly lucky safari delivered with a soft touch of science and philosophy.

Not forgotten in any George Casey film, Humans also have a role to play. From the earliest human remains still being uncovered in Oldivai Gorge to the still nomadic (for now) Masai people - the Serengeti reveals a human link to the migratory instinct. As seasons shift. Landscapes change and the herds go on the move - the abundance and scarcity of water drives everything. There are more than a handful of moments in this film that fully exploit the power and subtlety of the Giant Screen.

There are more than a few predatory kills throughout the film - none gratuitous or leering. Violence in nature is often and easily manipulated on film; here though it is not heightened, softened or sanitized, it simply is what it is. With the proliferation of cable television nature documentaries - big cat hunt and kill sequences are almost numbingly familiar. But watching a blast of cheetah speed on the Giant Screen is an experience that defies all expectations - it is one of many images in this very good Big Movie that has yet to be rivaled by any other LF wildlife documentary.

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