The Last Lions
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Fleeing a raging fire and a rival pride headed by the dangerous cub-killing lioness Silver Eye, Ma di Tau ("Mother of Lions") and her fragile cubs must make their perilous escape by swimming a crocodile-infested river. Remote Duba Island is both a refuge and a strange new world for Ma di Tau and her cubs to conquer. On Duba, Ma di Tau must face off with the island's herd of fierce buffalo whose huge, slashing horns are among the most dangerous weapons in Africa. Although the buffalo are one of her biggest threats, they are also one of her best hopes for survival if she can prevail over them. Yet, even as Ma di Tau faces devastating loss and escalating perils, she becomes part of a stunning turning point in the power dynamics on Duba Island, bringing together a competitive rival pride in a titanic primal bid to preserve the thing that matters most: the future of their bloodlines.
About the Director
Dereck and Beverly Joubert are award-winning filmmakers from Botswana who have been National Geographic explorers-in-residence for over four years. Their mission is the conservation and understanding of the large predators and key African wildlife species that determine the course of all conservation in Africa.
They have been filming, researching, and exploring in Africa for over 28 years. Their coverage of unique predator behavior has resulted in 22 films, 10 books, 6 scientific papers, and many articles for National Geographic magazine. This body of work has resulted in five Emmys, a Peabody, the World Ecology Award, and a recent induction into the American Academy of Achievement. They recently have been awarded the Presidential Order of Merit by the government of Botswana for their life's work.
Beverly Joubert also is an acclaimed photographer, and many of her photographs have appeared in National Geographic magazine.
Filmmaking for them has always been a way to bring the message of conservation to audiences, and it is estimated that over a billion viewers have seen their film "Eternal Enemies."
Their recent expansion into conservation tourism via their new company, Great Plains, is a venture into community/conservation partnerships in Africa, and Great Plains has received international awards for responsible tourism.
It is the Jouberts' belief that while some areas need the wilderness to be maintained in isolation, other areas will disappear unless viable, extremely-light-ecological-footprint (low-volume, high-cost) benefits are generated for communities. The total amount of impacted conservation land under Great Plains influence is about 1.5 million acres (607,000 hectares). These projects all aim to rehabilitate the environment and return these vast tracts of land to nature.
But it is the plight of big cats that attracts their major effort today. Dereck and Beverly established the Big Cats Initiative, a program with National Geographic designed as an emergency action fund to drive the world's attention to big cats and to develop real solutions to stop the decline that has seen lion numbers drop from 450,000 to 20,000 in 50 years.
"We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats," says Dereck. "They are in such a downward spiral that if we hesitate now, we will be responsible for extinctions across the globe. If there was ever a time to take action, it is now."
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The cinematography is superb. Over and over again, we are treated to beautifully framed nature shots. The cloud cover alone is breathtaking. Wide angle distant views (including aerial shots) would make any set designer envious. Top talent all around including "lighting by God"! This is true art at its best.
The storytelling may be the most compelling draw. The best scriptwriters in Hollywood could not have done better. Your emotions will go to all extremes-you will rejoice, you will feel sadness, and you will cheer for certain players- but never because of misleading copy or cheesy special effects. The words ring true throughout. The film editors do use occasional effects- The sepia filter is beyond gorgeous! Even here, it is not used as a gimmick for it never detracts from the stunning real life visuals. (Lions look great in Sepia- especially HD)
The last 15 minutes are beyond belief! This is the story of one lion in particular- "The Mother of Lions". Her journey through life, and how she rises to power (despite great loss) is the stuff of legends. WOW!
The narration by Jeremy Lyons is, once again, perfect.
The musical score is excellent, and perfectly supports the triumph and tragedy of each scene. Near the end, the use of a single woman's vocals will give you chill bumps. You may well cry- the scene plays out with joy at first, then chilling remorse and a deep heart-felt sorrow.
I have not seen an ending to a movie that blew me away like this since "The Sixth Sense". (No- lions don't see dead people- just dead water buffalo!)
It just couldn't get any better than this- and then it does! The Joubert's have devoted their lives to the study and filming of big cats, but The King of the Beasts is in trouble. The statistics are frightening- the lion population in Africa has dropped by over 90% in 50 years. This film is not just to entertain- it is a tool to encourage us to do everything we can to preserve these "Last Lions" Through this movie, this masterpiece, you will will develop a deeper love for these amazing creatures, and then hopefully you will cherish and protect what you love. Please visit "Make a Roar .com" and help the Jouberts in this worthy cause.
Since last January, National Geographic has donated 10 cents every time the official trailer for this film is watched on YouTube (up to a million views; $100,000). In a year, less than 350,000 have viewed the trailer so only a third of the possible money has been designated. In a day when silly videos go viral and quickly get millions of views, it is tragic and an indictment on the human race that so few people care enough to save these magnificent creatures to spend a couple of minutes watching the trailer. Do your part and watch it at least once daily until the goal of one million views is reached - [...]
I will also say this --- thanks to this important documentary, which moved me greatly, I am now supporting the Big Cat Initiative. I sent Dereck Joubert a friend request on Facebook which he accepted - wow! I just wanted to personally thank him and Beverly for all the wonderful work they have done over the last 30 years they have lived with the lions in Botwsana.