African Cats - Disney Nature Film
African Cats and Wild Life adventures
Nature has some wonderful stories to tell and the Walt Disney company has a way of adapting those stories to the big screen. It is truly amazing how nature films are made and how the wild life is captured on film. I have seen several Walt Disney Nature films with my wife and son and we are amazed how close to the action the director and crew get to the animals and the terrain to bring such amazing scenery to the big screen. Nature and wild life are popular subjects to capture and there have been some really popular films made.
One such film that comes to mind is March of the Penguins which was an absolute treasure to experience and the narration with Morgan Freeman was wonderful. We actually got to experience what life is like for the emperor penguins and the trials they encounter on their long journey to breed and in just trying to survive hunger, protecting their eggs from the bitter cold and the harsh weather conditions. We stayed to the very end and when we walked out of the theater we were a bit wiser and very sympathetic to their plight.
Since seeing that film we have always found it a real experience watching Disney Nature Films so when African Cats came out we knew that we would certainly want to see it. I am a fan of the nature shows on Animal Planet and one of my favorite hosts was the late Steve Irwin better known as the Crocodile hunter who was known for his antics, his expressions and his seeming fearless encounters with all types of wildlife. He was a very interesting person who had passion for what he did and was a family man devoted to his wife and children. It was a very sad day learning of his tragic death having been stung by a stingray.
African Cats is an amazing story narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and it takes the movie goer on an incredible journey showing first hand what life is like for a family of wild lions, a cheetah and her cubs and life for the wild animals that embark on their migrations across the plains and deserts of Africa. The filming is breath taking and the story is incredible as it shows the awesome power of motherhood amongst the African Cats and the instincts of survival and a mother's love of her young. We were completely enamored by the movie from start to end and we felt like we were right there in the wild amongst the lions, cheetahs, cubs and all the wildlife depicted in the film. Although some of the scenes are a bit intense especially the hunting scenes the film is a real gem in the tradition of The March of the Penguins.
The movie also personalized the African Cats by referring to them with names and showing how they work together in protecting each other, especially their young. The lions we learn have a hierarchy with lionesses which bear the cubs and mother them while the king Lion protects the whole family also known as the Pride. There are such touching scenes with the cubs cuddling with their mother and how she is devoted to protecting them as they try to hide in the brush. You realize how difficult it is to survive hunting to feed your family, surviving the harsh conditions encountered on the long migrations and surviving the threat of attacks and the continual need to protect your cubs from the inherent dangers encountered every day. For a cub in the wild they are an easy target so it is essential that the mother always keeps her guard up in protecting them.
You also realize how a clan of lions will have no choice but to abandon one of their own if they are too injured to go on. It is a cruel reality but it is something that is necessary so the whole family is not put in harms way, especially the young cubs. We are introduced to Fang, the leader of the clan who eventually is driven away in a battle with another clan of wild cats who vie for his position to father cubs with the lionesses.
We feel for Layla, the mother of Mara, a female cub who is showing signs of aging and wearing down from her war wounds from previous hunts and battles. We see the loving relationship between mother and daughter and the heartbreaking realities of separation forever. Layla protected her daughter and saw that she was fed and looked after through the years but the toll of aging and the injuries she suffered make it nearly impossible for her to continue so we see the gradual shift in her relationship with Mara and the pride. She works on developing a relationship with her sister to enable Mara to be accepted and cared for by her when she has to part for good and find a place to settle and die. This is the cold cruel realities of the wild. Mara is protected by the pride but she misses her mother but realizes this is the only way. Eventually Mara will learn another cruel lesson when she is forced to fend for herself when the pride is broken up and dispersed by other waring cats who takeover and drive Fang away and entrap the lionesses.
Eventually Mara will find her way back to the new family with the new leader and the lionesses when she is ready to have cubs of her own and she will develop the same instincts and skills her mother had.
The Cheetah, Sita is very protective of her 5 cubs but she will learn heartbreak when she loses two of them to Hyenas. She becomes very firm in her need to protect the other three and the scenes of her and her cubs are truly amazing and so inspiring. You can see how much she is devoted to them and how she loves them. We see how she mothers them to young cheetahs eventually capable of going out in the wild on their own. It is a steady progression and one which is priceless to see. We never really see how these animals live but this nature film allows us to glimpse into their world and see through their experiences and heartbreaks.
We were very impressed with the film and found it an incredible learning experience and very entertaining. This is a must see and you will find a place in your heart for these African Cats and you will have the extraordinary opportunity through a director's lens and vision to see how they live and survive the wild. It is truly amazing. I give tremendous credit to the director and his team in making this extraordinary film.
Edward D. Iannielli III