Movie Review: Born Free (1966)

Starring: Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers and Geoffrey Keen

Directed by: James Hill

The story of George and Joy Adamson who are game wardens in Kenya. After George kills the parents of three little lion cubs, he and his wife take them in to prevent them from dying in the wild and raise them. With two of the cubs sent to a zoo in Holland, only one remains in the care of the couple as they seek to reintroduce her into the wild.

Born Free is a movie that comes very highly regarded by film critics and movie lovers alike but I was deeply disappointed with the overall quality of the movie. It was painfully dull and boring with real life husband and wife team Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers coming together to showcase some of the worst displays of acting I’ve seen all year. Virginia McKenna was absolutely horrendous in her portrayal of Joy Adamson and the selfish manner in which the character was written really grated on me throughout the entirety of the film. Bill Travers wasn’t as awful as his wife but still pretty poor nonetheless and for a real life married couple to display such little on screen chemistry was deeply surprising.

The dialogue was tedious and everything about this movie just screamed amateurish but thankfully the saving grace of the movie which made it the slightest bit watchable came in the shape of Elsa. Elsa was the lion cub that was kept by Joy and George as her sisters were sent to Rotterdam zoo. As Elsa grew so did her character and her playful nature was nice to watch.

Overall, Born Free really didn’t have a lot going for it for me and when a lion is the most engaging member of the cast I think the movie has real problems. The happy ending was nice but didn’t make up for the dire script and acting that preceded it.


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