Top positive review
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Stunning, Poignant, Beautiful, and Terrifying
on August 24, 2011
The Elephant in the Living Room has to be one of the best documentaries made in the last 20 years. Forget about the Michael Moore's of the film industry. There are no slanted facts and slick editing in this movie. What you will see is documentary film making at its finest.
Both sides of the argument are presented here with compassion and true human emotion. From the outreach officer who, despite having had a tiger cub in his youth, seeks to provide safety for those in his state... to the troubled but warm-hearted man who fights depression with the help of his 4 year old lion who he sees as a son. If you have ever owned a pet, you will see so clearly and so poignantly where each of these men derive their passion from. This film does not seek to make either "camp" look bizarre or extremist, but presents the story with depth, truth, and palpable human emotion.
After watching the scenes where exotic pets are auctioned or sold at large markets, I found myself mesmerized and horrified. The depravity of human nature is striking and nauseating. A small child carrying an alligator, which his parents have bought for him, makes for an unforgettable scene. Monkeys, cougars, and hyenas being auctioned off in the heart of Amish country is yet another disgustingly haunting image. Contrast that with the gentleman mentioned above, who fights to keep the lions that he raises from birth, despite knowing that he can live neither with them nor without them.
This underground industry in America is exposed to the cruel light of day by The Elephant in the Living Room. And while the conclusion of the film is hopeful, the unsolvable problem created by human fascination, psychiatric illness, and greed leaves me concerned about the nightmares that will follow viewing this film. This movie is a compassionately and well made film that presents both sides of a tragic situation with care. The animals are indeed stunning and beautiful, its easy to understand why people fight to keep them as pets and family members.
In sum, this film is tragic, beautiful, compassionate, emotional, striking, devastating, and yet hopeful. I would HIGHLY recommend this film to anyone who appreciates well made movies that make you think about the state of the world we live in.