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INDIA: KINGDOM OF THE TIGER

Directed by Bruce Neibaur (2002, Primesco Communications Inc.)
Starring Christopher Heyerdahl and Smriri Mishra

Searching for a man-eating tiger, a famous hunter gains an appreciation for the beautiful creatures.

 

 

4 stars

August 31st, 2002 on the IMAX screen

 
    An interesting and well-made presentation of India and the tiger, and especially its foremost naturalist.

The best thing that I can say about this movie is that it was well made. Very well made. It didn't have all the special effects of Dolphins, for example, but it didn't need them, either. The story went seamlessly between its elements, garnering interest along the way.

The movie was a documentary, but it also told a story. In telling us about Jim Corbett, who is portrayed as one of the narrators, we are also introduced to the wonders of India, and the habitat of the tiger.

Jim Corbett was once a famous tiger hunter. But even after he is called in to kill a man-eating tiger in an Indian village near where he grew up, he starts to feel compassion for the creatures. He knows what it is like to hunt and to be hunted. And he eventually starts hunting tigers with a camera instead of a gun.

We see tigers in their natural habitat, hunting and playing. Sometimes, we see them at the zoo, though they are not identified as being there. They truly are beautiful, from their full faces to their long lanky bodies and scruffy tails. The eyes possess an intelligence that indicates their skill as hunters. And the young ones are just so cute! I saw a lot of my cat in them -but his paws will never be as large as the ones on those giants.

India also gets showcased, from the Taj Mahal and religious prayer to bustling modern downtown, which, as always, starts to encroach on the tiger's habitat. And at this point, the movie just barely avoided being preachy. Actually, it was preachy, but only mildly so, and was not annoying.

The narrator was obviously from India. He did an amazing job at narrating the movie, both when Jim Corbett was hunting, and when he was describing his homeland.

The countryside was beautiful in itself, and the film-makers took full advantage of the IMAX screen in presenting it. I loved the natural steps on which the farmers harvest, and the giant mountains in the distance. The music showed a lot of the native culture, and was also very beautiful and mesmerizing.

The tiger was also presented in full IMAX force. The teaser for this film has the tiger jumping straight at the audience, and the actual movie doesn't fail to deliver this type of stance several times. I hope the camera was being remotely operated, or had a giant zoom lens on at the time of that shot! I wouldn't want to get in the way of a 500 pound tiger!

The true joy in this film is learning about India, the tiger and the conversion of a hunter into a naturalist photographer, all at the same time. Cutting back and forth among the different topics, showing us a little about Corbett's youth, and the encroaching cities, the nature of the tiger, the hunting (using elephants!) that devastated the tiger population, and so on, against the backdrop of the hunt for the man-eating tiger 80 years ago was definitely the best way to come at this topic. If I get a chance, I'll go and see this movie again in the near future.

 
   

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