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Still shot from the movie: Born To Be Wild (2011).

Born To Be Wild (2011)

Filmed in IMAX-3D, this documentary follows Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas and Dame Daphne Sheldrick along with their remarkable teams as they rescue orphaned elephants and orangutans. Working to rehabilitate these animals, they attempt to return them to the wild.

Overall Grade: A
Violence: A-
Sexual Content: A
Language: A
Drugs/Alcohol: A
Release Date: 08 Apr 2011
Run Time: 40
MPAA Rating: G

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In-Depth Review

Morgan Freeman is the narrative voice behind this stunning documentary that follows two remarkable women as they pursue their life passions.

In the lush jungles of Borneo, German born Birute Galdikas mothers orphaned orangutans. Considered to be one of the three most prominent researchers on primates, along with Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall, Birute began the Orangutan Research and Conservation Project in 1971 in Borneo’s Tanjung Puting National Park. The film follows her efforts to reintroduce orangutans into their native habitat—one that is constantly under threat from encroaching farming efforts and other environmental changes. Working along side her son, she and a group of committed locals care for the young primates and teach them the skills they will need to survive independently.

Across the Indian Ocean in Kenya’s Tsavo National Park, Daphne Sheldrick cares for baby elephants whose mothers have been killed by poachers or died from other circumstances. In the reserve, she and her devoted Keepers serve as a replacement family for the young animals, feeding and nurturing them until they are old enough to begin a gradual introduction back into the wild. Having lived all her life among the animals of Kenya, Daphne has a keen knowledge of their habits and an in depth awareness of the intricacies of the elephant community.

Filmed in 3D, Born to Be Wild gives audiences a remarkable front row view of these women’s accomplishments in wildlife conservation. For the first time in a feature film, a dozen of this movie’s scenes were shot with 4k digital IMAX cameras. The result is a very intimate and realistic look at these little creatures as they swing through trees or use their trunks to throw red dirt on their backs for protection from the sun.

In truth, it is hard to find anything to quibble about in this documentary, other than the price of admission. Coming in at just 40 minutes of runtime, the cost per viewing minute is significantly higher than other 3D films. Still, the combination of beautiful cinematography, inspiring characters and cute baby animals may be enough to justify the entrance fee for this IMAX outing.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

Violence: A baby elephant is briefly shown standing beside his dead mother. A young animal charges at a human caregiver. Poaching and other illegal practices that result in the death of animals is discussed infrequently.

Sexual Content: Affection is shown between two orangutans.

Language: None noted.

Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Daphne Sheldrick worked tirelessly to perfect a formula that would be similar to the natural milk elephants received from their mothers. What other challenges would be inherent in raising an animal with plans to return it to the wild? What would make it difficult for the creatures to make the adjustment to living independently?

Both of these women have a passion for the work they are doing. What do you think will happen when they are no longer heading up their organizations? Will it be difficult for someone else to carry on with the same fervor? What passion would you like to pursue in life?

Video alternatives

Steve Irwin was the director of the Australia Zoo in Queensland, Australia and hosted Crocodile Hunter on Animal Planet before his accidental death in 2006. Since his passing, his wife Terri and daughter Bindi Sue have continued to be involved with Queensland’s reptiles. Steve and Terri starred together in the film Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. Irwin also voiced the character of Trev in Happy Feet and appeared as The Crocodile Hunter in Dr. Dolittle 2.

The habitats and routines of other wild creatures are documented in Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos, Arctic Tale and March of the Penguins.

Home Video Notes

Born to be Wild releases to home video on April 17, 2012.

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About the Reviewer: Kerry Bennett

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