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Born to Be Wild

A movie directed by David Lickley

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Orphaned Animals and the Women Who Care for Them

  • Apr 9, 2011
Rating:
+4
Star Rating:


Born to Be Wild 3D, the latest nature documentary to be shown in the IMAX format, distills the monumental efforts of two amazing women into just forty minutes. With such a short running time, I guess it’s only natural for me to feel as if the film is just scratching the surface. An argument can be made that the intention is not to provide an exhaustive account, but merely to pique your interest – to show you just enough so that, afterwards, you can do a little digging of your own. Yes, but if you’re already at the theater, you might as well learn everything you need to know there. I had a similar reaction to IMAX’s previous film, Hubble 3D, which gave us breathtaking images of deep space but didn’t adequately delve into the back story of the titular telescope. Maybe I should think of these films as extended teaser trailers, making audiences aware of a subject without giving away the whole story.
 
Truncated though it may be, Born to Be Wild 3D is still an engrossing, educational, and heartwarming film. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, it documents the endeavors of two women, who have made it their life’s mission to rescue and care for orphaned animals before returning them to the wild. In Borneo, we find Dr. Biruté Galdikas, who years ago founded Orangutan Foundation International (OFI) in part to raise funds for what would eventually become the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ). The center rehabilitates baby orangutans that have lost their parents and their habitats due to poaching, logging, and palm oil plantations. Over 130 locals are employed as veterinarians and caregivers to over 300 orangutan orphans. When the time is right, usually after eight years, they’re released back into the jungle – specifically in 100,000 acres of forest land Galdikas and her team bought and convinced the Indonesian government to keep protected.

                                              
                                                
An orangutan’s formative years, we learn, are essentially the same as that of a human child’s: They require constant attention and nurturing. An infant orangutan is instinctually trained to not leave its mother’s body for the first year of its life; since their real mothers have been killed, human caregivers must take on that responsibility. As they grow older, they become more independent, and they’re encouraged to retain their wildness by learning how to climb and swing around on custom-built jungle gyms. What Galdikas looks for in a mature orangutan is nest-building skills and foraging techniques, which are necessary for survival out in the jungle. If they exhibit these behaviors, she knows they’re ready to be released.
 
In Kenya, we find Dame Daphne M. Sheldrick, who runs an elephant nursery on the edge of Nairobi National Park, made possible through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (TDSWT). Much like Geldikas, her mission is to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned elephants, whose parents often fall victim to ivory merchants. They’re usually traumatized when the first arrive, and often times, they’re very malnourished. Like all mammals, elephants require milk in their infancy; it took Sheldrick almost thirty years to perfect an elephant baby formula that would adequately replace mother’s milk. Unlike orangutans, elephants remain social creatures their entire lives, so their upbringing requires not only constant attention from Sheldrick’s staff, but also from other elephants. Just like human children, they can be sweet one moment and a terror the next. They also like to play around.

                                              
                                                
When the elephants are old enough, they’re transferred to Ithumba, a section of the Tsavo national Park. It isn’t quite sending them back into the wild; it’s more like a halfway house, where elephants roam freely with their own kind while still under human supervision. It’s typically during this stage of development that they no longer require milk and are mature enough to learn how to be part of a herd. Ex-orphans can disappear into the park for months at a time, where they finally break away from human interaction. But when new orphans are ready to be released, the older elephants will return to greet them. Many of them become mentors. These animals are amazing.
 
In order to properly capture the wild surroundings and animal behavior, cinematographer David Douglas collaborated with the IMAX camera team in the development of a lighter, quieter digital 3D camera system. Their work paid off; not only is the scenery clearly shot and vibrantly colored, the 3D process is also the most immersive of any used in movies today. If you must see a film in 3D, make sure it’s at an IMAX theater. As wonderful as this movie looks, as inspiring as Galdikas and Sheldrick are, I can’t help but wonder what director David Lickley could have done with another forty minutes. It’s been established that these animals are cared for; now let’s focus a bit more on what it really takes to care for them. The film’s press kit, for example, tells us that Galdikas and her team run educational programs for local schools and work with communities to maintain the orangutan preserve. Likewise, it tells us that Sheldrick’s late husband, a conservationist, was a key figure in the establishment of Tsavo National Park in 1948. If Born to Be Wild 3D had dug a little deeper, it would have been a much more compelling film.

                                                  

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April 10, 2011
Coffee and reviews....now that is a way to start my day! This one for some reason strikes me as "March of the Penguins". I will put this on my list! Now, I may be off to see another movie.... ;)
April 10, 2011
That's a great way to start the day -- especially if the reviews you read happen to be mine. Seriously though, all nature documentaries are generally the same: They make the audience aware of animals and ecosystems. This movie does an adequate job introducing a subject, and is overall entertaining and educational.
 
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Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Wiki

Born to Be Wild 3D is an upcoming American nature documentary film by David Lickley. It will be distributed in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures and IMAX Pictures. The trailer was released in December 2010 during a Marcus Theatres showing of Yogi Bear. According to the trailer, now available on the internet, it will be out on April 8, 2011. The film will be narrated by Morgan Freeman.
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Details

Director: David Lickley
Genre: Documentary
Release Date: 8 April 2011 (USA)
Screen Writer: Drew Fellman
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