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‘Elephant’ is a Worthy Addition to the Disneynature Collection – Review

Following a herd of elephants as they’re about to make the treacherous journey across the Kalahari Desert in search of water during the dry season, Elephant is one of two new Disneynature releases to be added to the Disney+ streaming service (the other being Dolphin Reef). Shani, her calf, Jomo, and the herd’s matriarch, Gaia are the focus of the nature documentary that spans hundreds of miles. The herd must face uncertainty on their migration in the form of sweltering heat, drought, low food supply and a myriad of predators. It’s the kind of tale that you feel might not have the best outcome – you just feel it in your bones. 

Narrated by Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, Elephant is an often emotional journey about family. Despite the fact that the film is about the world’s largest land mammal, the theme of family is one that resonates past the animal kingdom and into the viewer’s home with ease. There are many similarities between the elephant herd and the human family unit that can be seen throughout the film’s entirety. Elephants remember, they feel loss and the mourn, they’re protective over youngsters and at times, they may even have disagreements. Sounds very familiar, right? All of this is happening as they follow the same path their ancestors have been traveling for decades. 

Young elephant calf Jomo in Disneynature’s Elephant (Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios)

Elephant is an emotional and often moving tale with stunning visuals unlike any other. The backdrop of the Kalahari and the abundance of wildlife including hyenas, water buffalo, baboons, zebras, lions and more. The attention to detail and in capturing all of the interactions within the ecosystem were stunning. Markle narrated the film with perfect poise. For example, when young calf Jomo was trying to find some friends to play with, Markle was just as playful in her narration of the scene. When it was a serious moment of journeying far and not being able to find a water supply, Markle’s voice reflected the severity of the situation. At each turn, Markle’s voice was pitch perfect for every moment that unfolded on-screen.

While there have been many films in the Disneynature collection thus far, Elephant is one of the best. Both educational and emotional, this is most certainly a documentary that I will be watching again. It expertly shows the immense strength and intelligence with which these majestic creatures navigate their lives. Elephant never shies away from the difficult subject matter at hand. While it is a beautiful story that is worth watching, it’s also likely that you may shed a tear or two while you join Jomo, Shani and Gaia on their migration. A truly touching story, Elephant is certainly not to be missed.

Directed by Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz, Elephant is available to stream now on Disney+!

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