When most people think China, they think pandas.
That’s not an accidental association, but DisneyNature’s Born in China takes great pains to bring other native animals to the forefront for this documentary.
Chronicled by the passing of the seasons, this film treats its audience to a “day-in-the-life” of each group by targeting a family member or and/or family unit through which we learn about each animal’s life cycle.
It’s the China not seen in movies or talked about on the news. It’s nature in action and the animals selected provide a perfect way to learn more about the country.
The audience will learn about the habits of the solitary panda, the internal-friction of a golden snub-nose monkey tribe, the struggles of a snow leopard and her young and more. Each story arc presented with amusement, in captivating detail, and realism – bear in mind this documentary is only lightly edited so you will see a snow leopard bring down prey and other aggressive animal behavior but there’s nothing grotesque or bloody about those scenes but the life cycle is shown to its fullest.
Narrator John Krasinski, does an excellent job of infusing the storytelling with life – even when the facts given are otherwise dry or dire. His ability to weave a narrative is well honed and sets a perfect stage for sharing the personality and character of each of the animals selected for feature.
A quick look at the end credits reveal this commentary built on the work of more than a few experts. The combination of the facts presented through a focused lens brings the data to life and gives it a relatable meaning for the audience (who knew that all you needed to do to be considered an adult is learn to climb a tree…well, if you’re a panda that is). Their contribution permits the facts themselves to be the star and fosters a deeper sense of understanding about these animals and their places in the circle of life (yes, I know you hear the Lion King song now…just go with it).
The sections of the country chosen are breathtaking in their beauty and biodiversity. The sweeping panoramas give true scope to the size of the country as well as the ever-changing nature of its vistas.
The world’s a big place; but far to often people forget that an animal’s natural habitat isn’t really as zoo. In Born in China, DisneyNature heads out into the wilds of China taking us along on an adventure worth having. I’m a huge fan of Disney’s nature series (ok, most anyone’s nature series) because it’s an excellent way to explore a world far too large to ever fully visit (on my budget) in my life time. Born in China presents parts of the country very few people will ever have the opportunity to see and gives a little perspective on why taking care of the planet isn’t just a good thing for the two-legged humans running around on it.
Born in China drags a little in the middle – you get the sense some footage was held back and the switches between story arcs isn’t always smooth – so you may have some fidgety moments; but all-in-all it’s a great educational film with something to hold the interest across age groups.
You’ll learn plenty more than expected and seeing the b-roll of some of what it took to gather the footage for this documentary is a story in-and-of-itself.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure film “Born In China” takes an epic journey into the wilds of China where few people have ever ventured. Following the stories of three animal families, the film transports audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film. A doting panda bear mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden monkey who feels displaced by his new baby sister joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard–an elusive animal rarely caught on camera–faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. Featuring stunning, never-before-seen imagery, the film navigates China’s vast terrain–from the frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest–on the wings of red-crowned cranes, seamlessly tying the extraordinary tales together.