I am a sucker for most babies of the animal kind, but baby elephants KILL me. As do baby orangutans, ever since I saw that Julie Roberts documentary and actually applied to volunteer at an orangutan orphanage in Borneo (true) aged 24 (no reply). I adore elephants, probably stemming from my grandparents living in Uganda in the 70s and having a house in Huddersfield full of statues of them, I even collect them.
So I was all over this film. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, who seems to be making a living from cute wildlife docos, it follows the story of two inspiring women who have devoted their lives to looking after orphaned animals – Dr Birute Galdikas who looks after orangutans in Borneo, and Dame Daphne Sheldrick in Kenya looking after baby elephants. I have to say ever since watching Born Free I would be quite keen to devote my life to looking after baby animals – kittens or puppies or goats perhaps – as long as they came back to visit for tea every now and then.
This is no Gorillas In The Mist, no tears, no bloodshed, no bullets. Only a heavy dose of cute little babies all furry and fluffy and curious, falling over and drinking milk and dribbling, a lot of “awwwws”, and I laughed out loud a few times – it was unbearably cute. You get right up close to them, study them, every facial expression and emotion. Elephants are always amazingly human with their propensity to remember friends and family and the bad stuff that happened before, and the way they look after each other. Orangutangs are just hilarious, incredibly fluffy and flexible and raucous, and need full time physical contact as children in order to survive. The problems of deforestation is only touched on which is a shame, but you realise what a fantastic job these women are doing – late in the film you see a beautiful alpha male orangutang, the wild-born son of one of the orphans.
Like some of the IMAX’s other 3D offerings – of the Into The Deep, Up That Mountain Over There, etc – this is a short 45 minutes. And the 3D is different to that offered in the Avatars and Transformers – the film comes right out at you, literally before your eyes, and enables you to get the most amazing close ups of the animals, every hair on their cute orange heads, up close to their trunks as they looked for water. I watched the film with Emmissima and we wondered afterwards if the 3D added to it and we agreed it had – if only to bring you closer to the subject and make you feel you were right there in the rainforest or the deserts of Africa with them. And of course there is the obligatory thing-that-jumps-out-at-you which every decent 3D film must have. But if you’re looking for action then it might not be for you – its like watching a particularly engrossing wildlife documentary.
Everyone should go to the IMAX at some point. It is the biggest screen in Britain, and with the steep seats, 3D glasses and a film that literally comes right out to your eyeballs it’s worth the ticket. Note it is a bit claustrophobic and takes a while to adjust to the all-encompassing visuals – best avoided on a hangover.
Born To Be Wild is on until the 4th August and tickets are £9 for adults – thank you very much to the IMAX for inviting Emmissima and I as guests. All photos are by Drew Fellman and copyright to 2011 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Check out the BFI Imax website for their full listings.