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The Last Lions

Submitted by Commandrea on March 26, 2011 – 3:08 pmNo Comment
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It’s nothing if not ironic that a movie designed to create awareness of the fragility of the lion, whose numbers in the last 50 years have plummeted from 450,000 to 20,000, depicts some of the bloodiest and most intense animal confrontations ever filmed. The whole circle of life writ large. The Last Lions was made by the team of Beverly and Dereck Joubert, and as a documentary Lions stands on its own plateau.

As a filmmaking team the Joubert’s catch images of unbelievable beauty and as often unrelenting violence by living and breathing the same air as their subjects. The duo literally lived in tents and cooked by fireside during the filmmaking process in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. They provide footage of the cats in broad daylight, striking savannah sunsets that conjure epic visions of animal royalty, as well as night photography, where the green image accentuates the glow of the lion’s eyes.

It must be open season on big electric cat documentaries because in the next month you have the Disney African Cats, and Warner Brother’s IMAX release Born To Be Wild. The thing about The Last Lions is the attention to a story arc. We follow one lioness in particular, Ma di Tau and chart her battles against other members of a neighboring pride. Eventually Ma di Tau fights to preserve her bloodline and adapts her hunting skills to stalk water buffalo. Even more surprising is a powerful third act where Ma di Tau trains to fight in water and takes over as alpha lioness of the pride led by her archenemy One Eye. (And that eye looks freaky in the night shots.)

The Last Lions unrolls at the Edwards Grand Palace. Make no mistake about the difference is graphic action between this doc and one of those Earth Day Disney docs. The Last Lions, narrated by Jeremy Irons, contains gory bloodletting galore. The law of the jungle is a take no prisoners code.

- Michael Bergeron

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