Review by Camden Ferrell
With theaters being closed nationwide, one of the new releases available to watch this week is the newest Disneynature film, Elephant. Directed by Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz (this being Linfield’s fourth Disneynature film), this movie is yet another family-friendly, educational, and moving portrait of Earth’s wildlife.
In this movie, we follow a group of African elephants as they make their yearly travel across the Kalahari Desert. The group of elephants consist of the matriarch, Gaia, as well as Shani and her young son Jomo. Throughout the movie, we see their dangerous journey as they combat heat, lack of food and water, and the land’s predators.
This is a really interesting story, and the journey of the elephants gives the movie a narrative feeling. It doesn’t feel like an overly expository look at these elephants, but it rather tells us about these creatures in context of their captivating journey. This definitely prevents the movie from feeling monotonous or bland in any way, and it makes the movie very consumable for families and young audiences.
This documentary is narrated by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. Markle has an amazing voice with fantastic character. While the elephants are very interesting on their own, she is able to provide more excitement and personality into the already colorful film. She has great timing, intonation, and she is able to really convey the emotions in her tone and inflection. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s a very well-done narration by Markle.
Linfield and Berlowitz did a fantastic job with the execution of the film. They were able to fluctuate emotions and tones in a way that made the film engaging. The elephants and their surroundings are unpredictable, but they were able to balance feelings of happiness, suffering, danger, and empathy in truly great ways.
The cinematography, like most Disneynature films, is truly astounding. The composition of each shot is riveting, and the image is so pristine, and it gives a really detailed look at these animals and the lives they live. There are a handful of truly breathtaking shots of the landscape and the elephants, and it just adds more dimensions to the story that is being told.
One of the few shortcomings is the film’s abrupt lull in its final thirty minutes. Granted, there wasn’t too much the film could have done due to the unpredictable nature of the film. However, it does compensate in this flaw with a heavy dose of highly emotional storytelling that will fill your heart with joy, sadness, and love.
Elephant doesn’t break any new ground, but it’s still another fascinating and education film from Disneynature. It has many intense and truly inspiring moments that make up for almost all of its flaws. For those staying home with young kids and family, this film is definitely worth checking out.
Elephant is now streaming on Disney+.