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The Elephant in the Living Room 2011

PG CC
4.5 out of 5 stars (82) IMDb 7.4/10

Praised by critics as one of the best films of the year, director Michael Webber exposes the controversial American subculture of raising wild predators as common household pets.

Starring:
Tim Harrison, Terry Brumfield
Runtime:
1 hour, 36 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Michael Webber
Starring Tim Harrison, Terry Brumfield
Supporting actors Russ Clear, Casey Craig, Pat Craig, Zuzana Kukol, Raymond Little, Scott Shoemaker, Bill Stiffler
Studio Warner Bros.
MPAA rating PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: DVD
I saw this movie in the theater with my family. I was quite speechless at the end. It is the story of how wild animals go unregulated on many States. When they get loose it is up to authorities to chase them down and catch them. Tim Harrison is great in the film and gives us a peek at his world. Sometimes scary, sometimes heartbreaking, but never boring.

Michael Webber has done a fine job of giving us both sides of the story. We see it from Tim's side and from the side of a man who owns wild animals. A must see!
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Format: DVD
Such a fantastic movie that everyone should see. Wild animals should remain just that... WILD. Come on people they are not pets!!!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This project is quite a testament to the power of documentary cinema, introducing us to an intensely interesting story and intensely interesting characters--more compelling than almost anything found in most fictional film. Exotic animal ownership has become such a volatile topic that almost anyone focusing principally on one situation risks being accused of pronouncing judgment on the wider topic. But director Michael Webber tries, to the extent possible, to maintain objectivity and to steer clear of the wider pronouncement. Exotic animal owners have turned their cause into a civil rights issue. And traders, breeders, and profiteers have amplified that narrative to advance their own interests. On the one hand, as with gun ownership, that combination of circumstances produces a very undesirable situation in the U.S. On the other hand, the statistics prove that, left to government, industry, and the general public, some of the most majestic wild animals on earth will not be preserved and protected.

Somewhere between species extinction and household ownership of exotic animals live a few soldiers whose job it is to try to make a bad situation as good as it can be. That's where this story takes place. And Webber couldn't have found a more compelling soldier than Tim Harrison--tough but empathetic, forceful but soft-spoken, highly complex but down-to-earth. Put him together with Terry, an intriguing animal owner in Ohio and his beautiful African lions, and you have a pensive documentary that always respects its characters and subject, as well as a wonder-filled story, worth watching and re-watching, that gives us all plenty of food for thought long after the film has ended.
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Format: DVD
An amazing documentary about owner's of wild animals and one man's mission to inform people about the dangers of such ownership. The animals are the subject of the controversy but the real gem in this documentary is the pet owners themselves. I began the documentary thinking it would be crazy to own a lion but when you hear these people's stories you begin to understand why they have such animals as pets. The danger and easy access of these exotic animals is also very interesting. Definitely a doc that exposes the viewers to a world I personally did not know exsisted.
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Format: Amazon Video
I'm perplexed by the two negative reviews because this is a model of fairness. Yes, the film has a point of view, but it goes out of its way to present alternate opinions fairly. This is a documentary which should be taught in journalism schools.

The documentary introduces the viewer to a subject few people know about: the market for exotic animals and the popularity of people keeping them in suburban areas. The director has a point of view, but in the process, he gives opponents a chance to speak out. Although I was convinced that this is a problem, I could easily have sided with the opponents.

Very few in the media have the empathy to approach a story like this, which is why one should view this in the theater or on Amazon but one should also get a copy to study. Unfortunately, too many commentators and reporters are incapable of treating the viewer or reader with the respect for their intelligence that people deserve.

The movie presents two main characters: one, a crippled truck driver who has raised a pair of lions since they were cubs and the other, a police officer who has become an expert in handling exotic animals. Although the lion owner is not particularly articulate, you see the love he has for the lions and understand the good that the lions have done for his state of mind.

And if you ultimately come down on the side of people who want to regulate the ownership of exotic animals, that is because the spokesman for that position is an authentic American hero. He comes across as unpreposessing, looking more like a hardware store clerk than a policeman. Yet he is quite an extraordinary man. With his combination of expertise, compassioin and courage, he embodies the American spirit and reminds one of an lawman of the Old West.
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