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Born Free

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Born Free + Nature: Elsa's Legacy: The Born Free Story + Living Free
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Product Details

  • Actors: Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers, Geoffrey Keen, Peter Lukoye, Omar Chambati
  • Directors: James Hill, Tom McGowan
  • Writers: Joy Adamson, Lester Cole
  • Producers: Paul B. Radin, Sam Jaffe
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Full Screen, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Anamorphic
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Georgian
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Columbia Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: March 4, 2003
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (329 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000844M8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,934 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Born Free" on IMDb

Special Features

Digitally Mastered Audio & Anamorphic Video
Remastered in High Definition
Theatrical Trailer
Interactive Menus
Scene Selection

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This wondrous true adventure from the best-selling novel about a woman who raised a lioness and eventually set her free is beautifully photographed on the vast, golden savannas of central Africa. Born Free is a story of courage and love, nature and human nature, and a relationship unlike any other ever filmed. When game warden George Adamson (Bill Travers) is forced to kill a menacing lion and lioness, he and his wife Joy (Virginia McKenna) adopt their three cubs. Two are sent off to zoos, but the third is kept - a female they name Elsa - to which they have become particularly attached. When Elsa becomes a full-grown lioness, the Adamsons realize that she must be set free and taught to survive on her own. A year later the Adamsons return to the savanna and are surprised by a very special welcome from their old friend.


Born Free is a bona fide family classic. The tale of how Kenya game warden George Adamson and his wife Joy (on whose book the film is based, with Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers in the principal roles) adopted and raised three orphaned lion cubs, taking a particular shine to the one they call Elsa before helping her return to the wild, is familiar by now; so's John Barry's Oscar-winning title song. And while the movie has its flaws (it contains references to "Bwana George" and such that would be considered frightfully un-PC nowadays), the animal footage, especially that of the lions in their various stages of development, is extraordinary and timelessly entertaining. DVD bonus features are limited to theatrical trailers, but the digitally remastered film can be viewed in both widescreen and full screen. A keeper. --Sam Graham

Customer Reviews

It is a film that I recommend highly.
Colleen M. Maxwell
The story is a great one, the scsnerey in the movie is beautiful, and the acting is very good.
James Boyd
I had watched this years ago when I was a kid and loved it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Edward B. Balazs on July 21, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I've probably seen this movie somewhere between 15 to 20 times since I was a kid. (I also read the book many moons ago.) It never ceases to entertain and is guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes by the time the song "Born Free" resounds at the end. Born Free is the wonderful true story of the raising of Elsa, the lioness, by Joy and George Adamson (sorry to correct another reviewer, but Virgina McKenna was the actress who played Joy Adamson, so it's not the story of Elsa and the McKenna's). The story is heart warming, can be seen by the whole family, & will make you want to book a trip to Kenya when it's all said and done. No question, this is one of my favorites of all time!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Monika on August 16, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Based on a true story, as told by Joy Adamson in her book of the same title, this 1966 film remains compelling today. The movie follows the adventure of a British couple, game warden George Adamson and his wife (Joy, author of the book), living in Kenya in the 1950s, who become surrogate parents for a litter of three orphaned lion cubs. When the mother is shot in self-defense, the Adamsons bring the cubs into their home, planning to turn them over to the Rotterdam Zoo as soon as the zoo is ready to receive them. However, Joy forms a strong bond with the smallest of the cubs, whom she names Elsa, and ultimately cannot bear to part with her. So while Elsa's siblings eventually depart for the zoo, Elsa herself stays with the Adamsons. At first all goes well, but as Elsa grows into a mature lioness, it quickly becomes apparent that she cannot remain with her human family. And so, rather than send Elsa to a zoo and subject her to life in a cage, Joy is determined to do something no one has ever done successfully before - teach a tame lion to survive in the wild, and ultimately set her free.

The acting is good, with real-life couple Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna playing George and Joy Adamson (McKenna also narrates the story as Joy via voice-over, pulling passages from the book). There are a few places where the dialogue seems slightly forced, but for the most part it is very sincere. The real star of the show, though, is Elsa herself, actually played by three different lionesses. You can really see the genuine affection between the large cat and her caretakers as they interact. It is magical to watch.

"Born Free" relies on none of the modern-day tactics for holding an audience's attention.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Tolle on May 10, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Having first seen this movie in my youth and recently watching it again as an adult, it has never lost its charm or appeal and I think it deserves to stand as one of the most fulfilling and heartwarming family films ever made. As it is based on a true story, that makes it even better. And what a story it is too.

Game warden George Adamson and his wife Joy are residents in Kenya, Africa and relate their experiences of raising an orphaned lion cub after the mother has been shot out of self-defense reasons. Actually it is three lion cubs but two are sent off to a zoo and the third, eventually named Elsa, is raised by Joy Adamson. It is interesting and enjoyable to watch the interaction of the cub with the adults and the relationship that grows ever closer between them. Upon raising the cub to maturity, it becomes a difficult time for the Adamson's knowing that releasing the grown lion into the wild is the only real answer. Due to being tame for so long, it is Joy's responsibility now to train Elsa to be able to survive on its own and she does an admirable job. When the fateful day finally comes, it tugs at the heart strings to see the emotional effects on the Adamson's when releasing something they love so dearly. It is also inspiring knowing that they cared so much and did it for all the right reasons. It eventually makes for a wonderful end to a great movie.

As for the film particulars, the cinematography is very attractive in Africa and the accompanying music is a perfect compliment to everything else. The acting is so innocent and natural you can almost be fooled into believing this isn't a movie. For being a timeless classic that is now over 4 decades old, this movie stands the test of time and will always be a treasure for anyone and everyone. This is a highly recommended film all around.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Madhura de Silva on December 9, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
"Born Free" is a true story about the adoption of a wild lion cub by a game warden in Kenya and his wife who are eventually confronted with two choises, either carrying out the tedious task of introducing the cub back to the wild in three months, or sacrificing her freedom by giving her to a zoo. The two people go through everything that is inevitable when you have a large cat for a pet. The film has its share of emotional moments like when the Adamsons get the cubs to lap up milk for the first time, and the time when the adolescent Elsa is isolated for a few days and is found wounded and unstable. But they are well balanced out with the amusing situations like Elsa riding on the hood of the truck and her bringing a two year-old elephant calf to the camp etc.
The film is so polished and of high quality that unless one is aware that it was made in '66, he/she will undoubtedly be lead to think that it was made in at least 1980. I was really surprised. I will add however, that I watched the film on TV yesterday for the first time and that is what my review is based on. Anyway I doubt the VHS is any different. So clever is the film in getting its points and objectives across that even people who aren't into wildlife movies will enjoy this, as I observed while I was watching. You have to admit, you don't often see a lioness swimming in the ocean and playing "foot" ball, do you? Also, the film runs for around 1 hour & 40 minutes. Long enough for you? I strongly recommend this film to anyone.
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