Born Free is a bona fide family classic. The tale of how Kenya game warden George Adamson and his wife Joy (on whose book the film is based, with Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers in the principal roles) adopted and raised three orphaned lion cubs, taking a particular shine to the one they call Elsa before helping her return to the wild, is familiar by now; so is John Barry's Oscar-winning title song. And while the movie has its flaws (it contains references to "Bwana George" and such that would be considered frightfully un-PC nowadays), the animal footage, especially that of the lions in their various stages of development, is extraordinary and timelessly entertaining. The 1972 sequel doesn't quite measure up to its predecessor but, in an era when most "family entertainment" tends toward the insipid at best, Living Free is still a worthwhile venture. Susan Hampshire and Nigel Davenport take over the roles of Joy and George Adamson, the British couple who, while stationed in Kenya, adopted three orphaned lion cubs. Living Free finds the dying Elsa, their favourite of the original three and now a mother herself, returning to the Adamsons, who must figure out what to do with Elsa's three cubs, who develop an unfortunate appetite for domestic livestock. The film is on the slow side, but once again it's the animals who steal the show; the footage of the young lions interacting with other beasts, from wild giraffes and rhinos to a pet dog, is remarkable. --Sam Graham
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