Ossus Library Index Non-Fiction Movie Index

AFRICA: THE SERENGETI

Directed by George Casey (1994, Graphic Films Corp.)
Narrated by James Earl Jones

A look at the cycle of life, through the migration of the predators and prey.

View Count: Twice

 

 

3+ stars+

September 28th, 2002 on the IMAX screen

 
    Beautiful scenery, beautiful and humorous looks at animals, but with some jittery camera work.

It's amazing how far IMAX films have come. I vaguely remember this film from its original release, back when there weren't too many big screen films. Compared to current films, this one is lacking a little something.

However, it is still a wonderful movie, showing off African scenery the way only an IMAX film can. They really can't go wrong, with James Earl Jones as a narrator. Coming right on the heels of The Lion King, the producers took full advantage of the Circle of Life and the various animals from that film.

We see a real wildebeest stampede, a real lion attack, and the real hyenas' laugh. All of it is really marvelous. The wildebeest may be a funny-looking animal -put together from spare parts- and it may be the staple and heartbeat of the Serengeti, but it is not the most interesting creature.

More interesting were the lion hunts. Wow, those cats can fly! The scenes where they were not hunting were pretty hilarious, as they play or relax, flipped on their backs in a way my cat can only just imitate. To see it on those giants was not just cute, but really funny. Another hunter, the cheetah was amazing to watch, as she quickly grabbed a small animal for her cub.

The elephants and giraffes were beautiful to see, as they mightily (or in the case of the giraffes -nimbly) walked across the land. The most hilarious look came at the hippo, which gets to live in its own salad bowl! I swear that looked like a really bad toupee!

Watching the wildebeest migrating, I was amazed at how much they were real meals on the run. The lionesses lay right in the path of the herd, which was visibly nervous, but didn't even attempt to change their direction. I suppose instinct tells them that more than ninety nine percent will get through a single hunt! The alligators also had their pick, when the wildebeests crossed the river. It was sad in the way nature runs its circle of life from the deaths of others, especially the ones that survived the predators, but died from the river current and the crowding. Even then, though, the hyenas and vultures (wow, are those guys ugly!) will not let a morsel of meat go to waste.

A lot of this film was covered in Africa's Elephant Kingdom and Amazing Migrations, but this one forms a much more complete picture. I cannot even imagine the size of a volcanic caldera so huge it would have its own microclimate within. As we follow the migration of the wildebeests, we come full circle, from times of plenty to drought and back again.

The beauty of the land and the animals (okay, some of them, anyway) was very nicely depicted in this film. The IMAX screen was put to very good use. The music accented the film wonderfully, also being reminiscent of The Lion King and the Rhythm of the Pridelands (inspired by the movie) soundtracks. I liked the way the native Maasai also migrate, and loved to hear their chants and music. It's also nice to see how tourism brings money to the land, allowing the people who live there to see that it must be protected because it has value all in itself.

For some of us, movies like this are the only way we will get there.

 
   

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