African Cats, Blu-ray + DVD (2011)
Disneynature wildlife documentary
Directors: Alastair Fothergill & Keith Scholey
Narrator: Samuel L. Jackson
Studio: Walt Disney Studios 106584 [10/4/11]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French or Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: Filmmaker Annotations (12) which take you behind the scenes while watching the film, “The World I Knew” music video, “Disney and Nature,” “Save The Savanna”
Length: 89 minutes
This fine nature adventure comes from Disney’s nature series which was started in 2008 and has brought us Earth and Oceans previously. The sub-label brings together some of the world’s top nature filmmakers, and each production has tied in with a conservation project, funded by early sales of the theatrical movies, Blu-rays and DVDs. Donations made by Disney Studios on behalf of African Cats support the “Save the Savanna” campaign, which has already helped to protect over 50,000 acres in Kenya’s Amboseli Wildlife Corridor.
The filmmakers took over two and a half years to shoot the dramatic story of the rivalry between two lion prides on opposite sides of a river, and the challenges met by one brave cheetah and her cubs. Fang is the old leader of one lion pride, who is unable to defend his family from a more powerful male lion and his four sons. Mara is a lion cub who grows up and stays behind with her injured mother while the rest of the pride goes off seeking food, and then finds herself completely alone without proper training in hunting for herself. The brave cheetah is Sita, a single mother of five newborns. There are plenty of other animals and birds of the Savanna featured in the film, and the closing credits very cleverly identify those you might have wondered about.
I appreciate that Disney now allows one to navigate past all the previews and promotions that preface their Blu-rays and DVDs. I find it most interesting that there are two packaged versions of African Cats: both have the same Blu-ray disc + DVD disc in them, but one has the blue Blu-ray stripe across the top, and the other has a yellow DVD stripe and—get this—costs $1 more!
Story and photography is stunning, and it never gets corny as some of Disney’s nature films of the distant past did. This is one that surely must benefit from the Blu-ray version vs. the DVD. It should appeal to children as well as adults. It appears to me a classic in wildlife filmmaking.
If any recording is essential to the genre, this is it.