AWFJ Women On Film – “Born To Be Wild” – Susan Granger reviews
“This story is like a fairy tale, except it’s entirely true – and we don’t know how it will end,” narrator Morgan Freeman begins this uplifting IMAX documentary adventure that revolves around two real-life fairy godmothers.
Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick is the widow of internationally known Kenya conservationist David Sheldrick. Back in 1977, after her husband died, she opened a nursery for abandoned infant elephants and, over a period of 28 years, developed not only the specialized milk formula they required but also a process of rescue and rehabilitation.
Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas is one of the three most prominent primate researchers – with Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. Working since 1971 in the jungles of Borneo, she has raised and rehabilitated orangutans whose mothers were killed and habitats ravaged.
Director David Lickley focuses on reflections by these compassionate women who have promised to care for their charges only as long as needed, teaching them skills and then returning them to live in the wild, raising families of their own.
In the beginning of their indoctrination to human care, baby elephants and baby orangutans suckle on giant baby’s bottles and enjoy their soapy baths. Both species have distinctive personalities, craving cuddling and contact, as they work with dedicated keepers. Lovable one moment, naughty the next – they’re a delight to watch, particularly as the elephants kick around a soccer ball and the orangutans cavort in the treetops. Watching a devoted keeper tenderly tucking a plaid blanket around a nervous, newly arrived tiny, sleeping elephant, before he settles into his nearby cot, is a magical moment.
From wide-angle landscapes to close-ups of the animals, the cinematography is spectacular, seamlessly transitioning from the African plains to the Indonesian rainforest.
Years ago, while on safari, we visited The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, just outside Nairobi, and witnessed this extraordinary phenomenon first-hand. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Born to be Wild” is an incredible, inspiring 8. Educational and endearing, it opens today at Norwalk’s Maritime Aquarium and around the country