There are hundreds of great movies about animals—although perhaps more of them appear on public television and the Internet than in movie theaters. Fictionalized accounts of animal heroism, such as The Black Stallion and The Incredible Journey, have been popular among children and the young at heart for decades. In recent years, documentaries like March of the Penguins and the incredible Blue Planet series, have informed audiences of the real-life feats of so-called “dumb animals.”
Two of my favorite animal-inspired Movies You Might’ve Missed are:
Never Cry Wolf, the 1983 adaptation of naturalist writer Farley Mowat’s book of the same name. In it, Mowat travels to the Canadian north to live alone among the wolves, ostensibly to document their predations upon caribou herds to justify a government eradication program. Mowat’s research, however, concludes that wolves’ presence among the caribou actually strengthens the herd, by culling the old, weak, and sick. Mowat also finds that wolves subsist primarily on mice and other small rodents, and that most of the fearsome legends about wolves are false. As is so often the case, it is human activities that pose the greatest threat to caribou and other wildlife—but the government is not interested in a human eradication program.
Winged Migration is as astounding for the filmmakers’ footage as it is for the birds’ ability to undertake epic migrations—across oceans and deserts, over mountains, despite blizzards, hunters, and other misfortunes. If you rent the DVD, be sure to watch the “Making of” feature. Some of the behind-the-scenes shots—particularly of pelicans bonding with their human handlers—are even more amazing than the featured footage.