Sunday, January 29

The Last Lions

Often when I gush about Beverly and Dereck Joubert, lots of people ask...who are they? What are they famous for? What is The Last Lions about? Well ladies and gents, I finally saw the film, and I am a fan, for life. My two cents on the film....

Think about the phrase when describing someone who has "the heart of a lion". In The Last Lions, Beverly and Dereck Joubert aim to demonstrate this phrase, in the form of a quasi-documentary film.

The film is not quite objective in flavor as a real documentary, but is still filled with facts and observations from the eyes of the Jouberts. The very scientific types (as well as those who believe animals are beneath humans) may completely dismiss the film due to its anthropomorphic nature, but I believe this one should not be completely dismissed. You may ask, why not? The film is filled with details and observations that are telling; the award-winning duo, the Jouberts, have dedicated their entire lives to the study and preservation of cats. They have braved the volatile weather and forgone daily comforts to catch even a glimpse into the lives of these creatures. Their observations are detailed here, and narrated by Jeremy Irons using deeply sonorous tones evocative of the warm, rich colors of the film.

You are thrust head first into an intimate acquaintance with Ma Di Tau, the main lioness. A little background information- Lions have a unique social structure- they group in prides, and are comprised of a single male and several females. The females hunt, and the males have to secure their lands, often against other male lions. When a male challenges another, the male either stands down (and is driven off), or fights. If the other male wins, it is in their instinct to kill any cubs from the previous male. Another option is for the female to take her cubs and run, hopefully joining another pride. This social structure places the female lions of prides with unstable factors (weak males, encroaching humans, etc) in particularly difficult situations. The instinct to survive, or to protect cubs, is a familiar scenario in nature, man included. Though this is not necessarily what the film is about, you will come to sympathize with Ma Di Tau, you will cry when she does, and you will roar when she does. The point of the film is that you will ultimately come to an understanding of Ma Di Tau, and come to celebrate what it means to have "a heart of a lion", or in this film, "the heart of a lioness."

The only part with numerical facts come spliced in the ending credits, reminiscent of the Jouberts' TedTalk, in which there are details about the dwindling creatures and mere minute shots on what the Jouberts went through in order to capture the footage found in the film. The fact that there wasn't even a human featured in the film should be telling enough of the subtle ways humans affects can wildlife, and the Jouberts have an intimate understanding of this. This film is their own message, their own cries, in hopes of an eventual triumph.