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Born to Be Wild 3D

Photo: , License: N/A, Created: 2008:01:17 08:42:45

Born to Be Wild 3D

Directed by David Lickley

In Borneo’s Tanjung Puting National Park, Biruté Mary Galdikas rescues young orangutans whose mothers have been killed and whose homes have been destroyed by loggers. In Kenya’s Nairobi National Park, Dame Daphne Sheldrick does the same for young elephants, whose families are the targets of ivory-hungry poachers. Their lives and projects are entirely separate, but they’re both the subject of Born to be Wild 3D, a rollicking good time of a minidoc that bounces between baby elephants playing soccer and little orangutans washing themselves in a river.

The cute factor is high here, but it’s not just nonsense cuteness. Every bit of this movie—the narration (by Morgan Freeman), the music (by the wonderful Mark Mothersbaugh), the animals, the setting—works, and it all works together, resulting in a simply perfect way to tell the important tale of each woman’s work.

“Each part of the story makes the other parts richer,” writer/producer Drew Fellman says by phone. “By combining the stories, we end up telling a story that’s broader about our relationship with the natural world.”

That natural world makes for a beautiful setting that lends itself well to the 3D IMAX. At first, the 3D seems almost overbearing, and you may find yourself reaching out to push tall grass out of your face or turning your head at an angle to see around it. But it’s all part of the wild experience, and when it’s used in a scene like the release of an orangutan orphan back to the jungle, his wise face staring open-eyed out of his box as the camera pans up to the sunlit treetops, it’s a new feeling altogether.

It’s a good thing for Fellman that it works so well, because it makes a whole lot of trouble worth it. The IMAX 3D camera is 300 pounds, and requires a crane and all sorts of equipment to get it around. Keep that in mind while watching the orangutans climb up and swing on and grab at everything they see, and you’ll realize how difficult of a venture this was.

“It’s the most ridiculous way to try to make a film,” Fellman says, especially with wild animals involved. “But the results are spectacular.”

And he means wild. Not one of the animals in the movie is trained or directed; each one, if not completely wild, is either a rescued orphan or an ex-orphan now living free. And this is a big part of what makes the movie so powerful: The lesson that we’re all much more similar, and therefore more connected, than many of us like to imagine comes across all the stronger when the elephant sleeping under a blanket next to his keeper is wild.

Sheldrick sees the movie as a way to share her elephants with the world. “It will make people understand that we are not special on this earth,” she says. “We’re not special to nature. In fact, we’re probably a huge failure because there is no other species on the planet that deliberately damages its habitat the way we do. By destroying nature, we destroy ourselves.”

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