Following the sweeping success of Zootopia and The Jungle Book, Born in China is Disney’s third animal-centric film of the year. But unlike its *duo of animated predecessors, Born in China is a live-action feature, starring five of China’s native animal species – the red-crowned *crane, snow leopard, golden snub-nosed monkey, Tibetan *antelope, and, of course, the giant panda.
I went to the theater with expectations of a Discovery-style documentary, but was surprised to be met with a drama-like feature, which focused on five animals’ *intertwining tales.
I found it to be a story well told, with the right amount of thrill, humor and heart, until I discovered how the film was made – the production team had a pre-conceived story, editing the footage around it – that some of that sentiment was lost.
Even though the director himself, Lu Chuan, said that the film is meant as a “narrative feature” rather than a documentary, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the tears shed at the movie’s most *poignant parts were shed in vain, and the emotions evoked in me by these animals’ lives I’d come to be so moved by were evoked under false *pretenses.
Perhaps this is just me being picky. After all, Born in China is one of the better films to hit Chinese screens this year and the outcome exceeds expectations considering its *excruciating production process. According to Lu, shooting took three years – the first month on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau went by without capturing anything usable due to the unpredictable habits of snow leopards.
Personal criticisms aside, if you simply want to see beautifully shot scenery alongside *stunning close-ups of majestic Chinese wildlife, Born in China is definitely worth your time.
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