This wondrous true adventure from the best-selling novel about a woman who raised a lioness and eventually set her free is beautifully photographed on the vast, golden savannas of central Africa. Born Free is a story of courage and love, nature and human nature, and a relationship unlike any other ever filmed. When game warden George Adamson (Bill Travers) is forced to kill a menacing lion and lioness, he and his wife Joy (Virginia McKenna) adopt their three cubs. Two are sent off to zoos, but the third is kept - a female they name Elsa - to which they have become particularly attached. When Elsa becomes a full-grown lioness, the Adamsons realize that she must be set free and taught to survive on her own. A year later the Adamsons return to the savanna and are surprised by a very special welcome from their old friend.
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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's 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. DVD bonus features are limited to theatrical trailers, but the digitally remastered film can be viewed in both widescreen and full screen. A keeper. --Sam Graham
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