In a Nutshell: Disney Nature presents a beautiful look at some fascinating creatures born in China.
Narrated by John Krasinski (The Office: The Complete Series) , this eco- documentary illustrates the circle of life and introduces the world to some stunning locations and animals that most people will never get a chance to see in real life.
I’ve been to China twice this past year and have fallen in love with its culture, topography, people, art, language, and food. It is an amazing country and this film offers a deserving spotlight. The film is full of “Awwww” moments.
Timed perfectly for Earth Day 2017, a portion of ticket sales will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund.
Uplifting theme: Family The circle of life and death The beauty and duality of nature: freedom vs. security Each of us is a part of a much larger story.
Things I liked: John Krasinski offers a familiar, comfortable voice to walk us through the lives of the featured animals. He does a great job, although the script could have been even better. The golden snub-nosed monkeys steal the show. They’re gorgeous and hilarious, providing delightful monkey mischief. One thing Disney Nature does very well is introduce children to things they could never see in a zoo. The Tibetan antelope, called chiru, provides the film with some epic moments and cinematography. My question: why don’t the males accompany the females on their birthing journey to protect them? A crane in China is a symbol of longevity and fortune. It is believed that when a crane takes flight, it is carrying an animal’s soul to another world. That theme and sentiment and used at the beginning and end of the movie. I love it when a film ties ends together. How do the photographers get those shots????? It’s pretty incredible. You get to see gorgeous red pandas, black and white pandas, snow leopards, antelope, and monkeys. All adorable.
Things I didn’t like: This version of Disney Nature doesn’t offer anything particular new to the nature story narrative. I wish we could have learned more about the animals, more facts and information. Humans project their feelings and descriptions on what’s going on with the animals. Who knows if any of that is true. It’s very predictable.
Interesting lines: “China is a land of myth and mystery.” – John Krasinski “Each life is just one beat in the beautiful cyclical rhythm.” – John Krasinski
Tips for parents: There are several scenes when animals and birds prey on other animals. Some animals die. Children need to learn about life and death, and this movie does not shy away from the brutal realities. Some fighting and bullying. No profanity. Thank goodness, animals don’t swear. It’s not all happy and beautiful. There are some sad moments. You see a mother give birth and later nurse babies. Your kids may have questions…
Once again, Disneynature does a fantastic job creating a story with themes real to humans and showing breathtaking landscape, with a great sense of pace, wonder, and humor. I think the beautiful places in China which this scenic documentary explores are about a third of its appeal, and another third comes from the quality of its writing and narration, and the journeys of the characters also constitute a third of its appeal. John Krasinski does an excellent job narrating this one. His sense of comedy timing in the silly lines he reads is really impressive. Cranes are at the beginning of the documentary but not featured after that. The rest of the documentary goes back and forth between a snow leopard family, a giant panda family, a kind of antelope called a chiru, and a golden snub-nosed monkey. It follows their challenges over the four seasons. The challenges and landscapes faced by each are different enough that it never ceases to be interesting. Even though these characters don't come together into one narrative, and only the pandas and monkeys have human-like relationships, it doesn't feel disjointed at all.
It's remarkable to me how Disneynature finds ways to make even a scary, aggressive snow leopard someone you care about. Disneynature also has a knack for including its documentary-style stats in a way that doesn't feel like a documentary, but more like a family adventure film with comedy and conflicts between characters. I never know how much the narrative is true about the motives of these specific animals in doing what they do. The narration probably makes up some conclusions to make a better story, but the authenticity of the interactions can't be manipulated; there's no false showmanship in this series.
The music is quite interesting because it uses the western classical harmony tradition but a Chinese-sounding musical motif. I absolutely love this documentary and the things I've learned about the way these creatures live, and I am eager to get it when it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray!