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The 2005 film ‘Grizzly Man’ tells the story of Timothy Treadwell, who spent his summers in Alaska living among the wild grizzly bears. 

Mr. Movie: Different animals

There are hundreds of movies about dogs and horses and even cats. Let’s take a look at some of the best movies about not-so-familiar animals.


 I’ll start with Jane (2017), a fascinating documentary about Jane Goodall. A secretary with no education in zoology (and hence no preconceptions) is selected to photograph and study the wild chimpanzees of Gombe, Tanzania. She exceeds everyone’s expectations, including her own, as she gains more and more of the trust of the animals until she is accepted by them and virtually lives among them. This film, shot mostly in the ’80s, was believed lost and was only rediscovered and made available in 2014.


A somewhat similar film, though not a documentary, is Gorillas In The Mist (1988). It features Sigourney Weaver as zoologist Dianne Fossey, whose study of mountain gorillas in the Congo and Rwanda probably saved the species from extinction. Bryan Brown plays her photographer and lover. Her discoveries about the gorillas dispelled many erroneous assumptions that had been made. But she really rubbed poachers and several government officials the wrong way, and was murdered under mysterious circumstances by persons unknown.


There are dozens of bear movies, and most of them are frankly pretty bad. Depending on your tolerance for craziness, Grizzly Man (2005) is a wonder. It is the story of Timothy Treadwell, who studied and lived with grizzly bears in the Alaskan wilderness. He and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by grizzlies, which to me seemed inevitable. The film he shot before his death was discovered later and made into this interesting documentary. No blood and gore in the film.


The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill (2003) is the incredibly true story of a flock of cherry-headed parrots who presumably escaped (or were released) as pets, and live and thrive in the trees on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. Mark Bittner is an unemployed musician who lives in a cabin atop the hill. He feeds and interacts with the parrots. While they look virtually identical to us, he can tell them apart. He has named them all and can tell each’s characteristics in this fascinating film.


Another utterly entrancing bird documentary, March Of The Penguins (2005), details the life of Antarctica’s Emperor Penguins. Every year those of breeding age leave the ocean and walk (waddle?) many miles to their ancestral breeding grounds. After chicks are born, the parents take turns caring for the baby and going for food. How the French cinematogaphers got these scenes, and survived, is interesting in itself.


Big Miracle (2012) is a fictionalized version of the freeing of grey whales trapped under the ice near Point Barrow, Alaska. Drew Barrymore and John Kracinski are oceanographers who hatch a seemingly loony plan to get the trapped whales back to open water before the ice permanently freezes over. They gradually win over the natives who wind up helping the effort. Did it work? Well, if they had failed, this wouldn’t be much of a movie, now would it?


All of the movies in this article are available on DVD. The last three are fine for all ages. The first three are for grown-ups.