Horton hears a sweet voice guiding these pachyderms.
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a DisneyNature film (the last one I saw was “Monkey Kingdom” with Tina Fey’s narration), but given our Corona virus situation, I’ve decided to give “Elephant” a look. Now keep in mind, the documentary just premiered on Disney+, and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, is the narrator.
It was also directed by Mark Linfield, a faithful collaborator with DisneyNature (“Earth,” “Chimpanzee,” “Monkey Kingdom”), who beautifully photographs the elephants and their natural habitats in Africa. And looking at this on my Disney+ account, it looks crystal clear and clean as a whistle. Certainly, much more dazzling than the CGI and recycled world of Jon Favreau’s remake of “The Lion King.”
We meet a young mother named Shani and her son Jomo. No voice actors, just real elephants surviving the Kalahari Desert. Since an elephant never forgets, Gaia worries for her family’s safety, when the desert begins to dry out.
These elephants have challenges. If you play in the mud too long, it could get stuck to you skin or the little ones could get stuck and suffocate. That segment makes me uncomfortable, for the record. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because since it’s so hot in the desert, water holes are very limited, and time is running out. And they must take routes with crocodiles, fast rivers, lions, and hyenas in order to get to their safe haven.
“Elephant” is a documentary that’s essentially friendly and educational to kids, and delivers various themes of strength, love, teamwork, and challenges. They deal with predators, droughts, deaths, and births without being too extreme. After all, the movie is rated G. And Meghan Markle is able to have fun as the narrator, and provide a sincere sweetness in introducing kids to these elephants and their mission for survival.
Granted it gets a little awkward at times, but other than that, the movie is photographed tremendously in both night and day, it’s adorable in its own innocent ways, and it’s exciting when we see these pachyderms dodge their predators. And we now know they have the tusks to stand up for themselves.
Parents who watch this along with their small children will also be blessed at the courage of the matriarch elephant Gaia and her sister Shani. They’re able to protect both their tribe, even if it weakens the older one. So, it’s not just for kids, but for adults as well.
It loves gazing at all the animals that pop up and the African landscapes they reside in, and we’re able to see them in full color. And the music, composed by Ramin Djawadi, helps keep the doc’s high spirits. Kudos to Linfield for showing his passion in elephants.
Now Available for Streaming on Disney+