Born Free

I kept hearing on the news that it was Back to the Future Day. We don’t have flying cars, and we’ve stopped using fax machines, but we do still see Michael Jackson nostalgia. I went over to the office and completed some work on a quiz and a homework assignment. I bought a set of Partridge Family trading cards, and I went over to the grocery store. I also bought another Beatles shirt before I went back to work. I was tired when I returned home, but I did sit down to watch “Born Free.” I think I did see the movie many years ago. Over the years, we have seen footage from Africa that looks better, clearer and closer, but I enjoyed seeing this movie. The acting wasn’t exactly impressive, but I did appreciate the difficulty of what they did. It seemed hazardous to interact with those lions. Part of the story is something we’ve seen in different variations many times, the bonding between human and animal by watching them grow up. George Adamson tried seventeen different formulas in coming up with the one that the cubs would accept. The question is what they should have done with the cubs at the very beginning? It’s the dilemma of taking care of animals, in the process taming them. You would think that you can’t treat lions like pets. How could you stand seeing them destroying the things you have in your house? Virginia McKenna played Joy Adamson, who seemed in her portrayal to be an unreasonable person except for her desire to keep Elsa from being sent to the zoo. Looking back, though, she was unfair to the other two cubs, who did go to zoos. It’s like a mother favoring one child. Bill Travers had pretty good presence on the screen, and he did say some of the things that needed to be said about setting Elsa free in the wild. A couple of his humorous moments were awfully broad, and he did seem like a bad guy in shooting two lions. I think today’s audiences might object to the Africans playing such a small part in the film. They were always in the background. The stars are really Joy and Elsa, and I think we’re more interested in the lion’s survival than a weepy, sentimental woman. I thought there was too much voice-over in the film. It made me not want to believe in Joy’s interpretation of what was happening. I think we wanted to know more about Africa, other than its being a place where lions live and where you can get malaria. I liked the scene on the beach where Elsa took a swim. I can’t imagine the sequel being very good, and I couldn’t see how they made a television series based on these books. The difficulty of working with animals is always great. The music did add quite a bit to the movie. It’s hard to get the title tune out of your head, although I’m not too sure that the lyrics make sense. The last scene with Elsa was especially sad because you can’t say goodbye to an animal. In fact, you can’t really be sure what they’re thinking, or if their emotions are anything like yours. Well, I can’t say that this film is anything resembling a masterpiece. You can put other films like “Ring of Bright Water” and “Fly Away Home” in the same category. I was a bit surprised that the opening moments showed a lion chewing on a zebra carcass. Good movies about animals are good for families. “Born Free” shows signs of age, but seeing it did give me a feeling of nostalgia. The sad thing about what happened to the real Joy and George Adamson is that they were both murdered in incidents nine years apart, in 1980 and 1989. Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna were both in “Ring of Bright Water” in 1969. Travers died in 1994 at age 72, but McKenna is still alive and is 84. They were married since 1957. Elsa would live for only five years, dying of a blood disease in 1961. I feel asleep but awoke to see Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd on the Jimmy Kimmel show. The youthful Marty McFly of 1985 and 1989 shows age in his face and in his speech. I did think of seeing “Back to the Future Part II.” The record store had it, but I didn’t want to fork over ten dollars for it. I wondered what Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover were doing these days. I heard the news that the Mets had won the National League pennant. It was sad that the Cubs were eliminated on Back to the Future Day, which had the Cubs winning the World Series. Hasn’t anyone figured out how to pitch to Daniel Murphy? The Blue Jays still had some life as they won a second game against the Royals. In local news, we heard about student overdosing on cough medicine, a rash of camera thefts, and people getting sick from eating at a San Jose restaurant. The Jack Benny Program had an episode with Billy Wilder, and I wanted to see that before I went back to sleep. Some of the people who died on October 22 include Paul Cézanne (1906), Cleavon Little (1992) Mary Wickes (1995), and Soupy Sales (2009). Today is a birthday for Jeff Goldblum (63), Catherine Denevue (72), and Christopher Lloyd (77). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for October 22, Weird Al Yankovic got his first accordion lesson in 1966. Also in 1966, the Beach Boys’ single “Good Vibrations” was released. In 1977, Kenny Rogers married Marianne Gordon of the “Hee Haw” television series. In 1982, “First Blood,” the first Rambo movie, was released. In 1992, Cleavon Little died of cancer at age 53.

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