Entertainment » Movies

Born in China

by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Sep 14, 2017
Born in China

One of the best reasons to own Disneynature's "Born in China" on Blu-ray is the special behind-the-scenes features, a look at how this movie was made. Directors of photography Paul Steward and Shane Moore, and field director Jess Tombs guide us through some fascinating behind-the-scenes footage of this grueling process.

For over a year, film crews worked in remote areas of China, from icy mountain plateaus to dense bamboo forests - capturing rarely seen wildlife including wild pandas and snow leopard cubs - and sensuously recorded them in vivid, textural images, including time-lapse landscapes and intimate close-ups of animal faces. Then director Lu Chuan and editor Matt Meech shaped this eye-catching footage into three stories where animals are anthropomorphized with distinctly human problems.

For instance, the basic social unit of the golden snub-nosed monkey consists of one alpha-male, some females, and their offspring. Males are solitary and females band together to protect the young. When a young male reaches maturation, he becomes unnecessary - a threat, competition. So he is thrown out of the pack.

Disney converts this natural behavior into the story of a group of single mothers working together, a gruff father who has a hard time expressing his paternal emotions and a prodigal monkey son entering adolescence and learning lessons of independence. It may not be the most factual reporting of the natural world, but it's a heck of a good story.

Disneynature documentaries draw captivating parallels between natural behavior and the human condition by infusing wildlife with emotion. Nurturing is not instinctive in Disneynature. Mothers protect their young out familial responsibility. Mating rituals are not necessary acts, but a means of expressing love and starting a family.

Along with this monkey storyline, John Krasinski (the deadpan paper salesman on the American version of "The Office") narrates tales of a mother panda and her beloved baby, and a female snow leopard who sacrifices everything to keep her cubs alive.

Barnaby Taylor's soundtrack guides us through the emotional arc of the stories, using native instruments to recall Chinese folk music. It creates a tone that is both majestic and provincial.

The result is a heartwarming and spectacular visual journey for the whole family.

"Born in China"
Blu-ray Combo Pack $29.95


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