Born Free

Born Free

Starring Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers. (U)


Joy Adamson’s famous book, based on the adventures she and her husband George had while raising Elsa the lion cub in 1960s Kenya, was made into this classic movie starring real-life husband and wife McKenna and Travers. From the opening swirling moments of John Barry’s Oscar-winning score (and especially when you hear the theme song ‘Born Free’ itself), you’ll need the tissues for this lovingly filmed tale that follows Joy and George as they raise three orphaned lion cubs (two are then sent to a zoo), and Joy falls in love with one of them, Elsa, and keeps her on the reserve until she realises the lioness is too big to be kept and has to be trained to survive back out in the wild.

It’s really like a nature documentary with some story thrown in, but it’s charming nonetheless, and sweet and innocent, too – one perfect for younger children interested in the animals of Africa (do note that they may be upset by the notion of the cubs being without their parents – both were shot). Unfortunately, in real life, both George and Joy Adamson were murdered in separate incidents, while Elsa (who had her own cubs and survived in the wild for a time) died of a blood disease in 1961. She is buried in Meru National Park in Kenya. 

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As mentioned above, children may be upset that the cubs were orphaned.

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