Published Apr 01, 2011Opening each sequence with a wide-angle landscape shot that gracefully transitions to an intimate image of the animal subjects at hand, Born to be Wild wears its thematic intentions on its sleeve, making the epic personal and the wild accessible to humans.
It does this by focusing on two extraordinary human subjects: Primatologist Dr. Birute Galdikas, who works with Orangutans in the dense rainforests of Borneo, and animal husbandry specialist Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who rescues and raises orphaned elephants in Kenya. Both women rescue, raise and eventually release animals into the wild, adhering to similar guidelines of mirroring animal parenting to ensure a smooth, safe transition for the animals back into their native environment.
With Morgan Freeman narrating, giving a calming influence to the already fluid, meticulous camerawork, this cursory, kid-friendly documentary flows naturally, being fully absorbing while lingering on occasionally staged shots of animals reaching out to the camera or playing with various objects. We get a sense that the animals have complex personalities, much like humans, which is driven home by the maternal, compassionate way Sheldrick and Galdikas speak of them.
But at only 40 minutes, this glance into the rescue process is superficial at best, relying on camerawork and visuals to give dramatic depth to what is essentially a brief segment on Owl TV. It's really just quick sound bytes and observations by the animal specialists followed by cute shots of animals with broad, unifying narration tying it all together.
We get a sense of the general facts, but never an idea of just what it's like for these women to live lives dedicated to a cause. Obviously, the intention isn't to provide a psychological breakdown and history of world politics for context, but a little bit of substantiation wouldn't have hurt. (Warner)