(Rated G) 4 Stars
Every Earth Day Disneynature releases a film appropriate for the day, and I have become a fan of these films.
The first Disneynature film I experienced at the theater was the 2011 release “Big Cats”, and after that joyous and unforgettable film, I have made the yearly trek to the theater to see the latest Earth Day offering. This year the studio is presenting “Born in China”, and the latest nature documentary is being described as the most ambitious yet. The film is an American/Chinese calibration, and follows a female snow leopard and her cubs, a female giant panda and her newborn cub, and a young male golden snub-nosed monkey and his extended family.
These animals are all native to China, and other than the panda, I didn’t realize the leopards and monkeys were only found in China. The film opens with an introduction to the wilds of China that few Americans have experienced, and the scenery is majestic and often other-worldly. As with the other films in the series, the narrator assigns the animals names, which of course causes us to become attached to them. While all is happy most of the time for the animals, the mother panda must deal with the pending separation from her growing cub, the snow leopards deal with rivals and a tragedy, and the adorable golden monkey deals with a rival younger sister. The filmmakers go back and forth between the stories of the animals, and follow them through the four seasons.
The film also shows various scenes with the majestic red-crowned cranes, which play a large role in Chinese mythology. All of the segments with the various animals are amazing, with the monkeys, as expected, providing the most humorous and lighthearted moments. The filmmakers in the series always do a masterful job of making us feel as if we are right there hanging out with the various animals, resulting in amazing intimacy with these amazing and beautiful creatures. Even if there were no animals in this film, the scenery of the wilderness of China is breathtaking and would make for a wonderful film. As with the other films, don’t leave the theater early as you will get a marvelous behind-the-scenes experience from those involved in the film making. It was amazing to me to see how dedicated the filmmakers were while enduring all types of weather. One minute there would be hail, and the next bright sunshine, which reminded me of weather in East Tennessee.
How can you go wrong when you combine beautiful animals with the wonders of wilderness? You can’t. Director Chaun Lu, one of the most successful in his field in China, has done a masterful presenting a love letter about his country. If you have never seen a Disneynature film on the big screen, I suggest you take the whole family and start with “Born in China”, a cinematic experience featuring the magic of nature that will leave you with a lasting impression of the beauty of creation.