More than a half-century has passed since the publication of Born Free — a book and then a film that changed forever the way we think about wildlife. What has happened to lions since this story? And what has happened to the people featured in the film? What has Born Free taught us?
Watch Nature: “Elsa’s Legacy: The Born Free Story” July 17 at 8:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS.
The dramatic story of Joy and George Adamson becoming surrogate parents of an orphaned lion cub named Elsa and her eventual release back into the wild sold millions of copies around the world, and the extraordinarily successful film based on the book went on to win two Academy Awards. It was one of the earliest representations on film of animals as individuals, and had considerable repercussions in the world of conservation. The idyllic story portrayed on film was far from reality. Behind its romanticized depiction of Elsa and the Adamsons is the compelling story of the daring and controversial life two lovers of wildlife chose to live. But it is also a celebration of how a simple act of kindness taught us all how to see animals in a brand new way.
Nature goes behind the scenes of Born Free to examine the genesis and aftermath of this landmark story. The documentary takes viewers through challenges in making Born Free and the real-life drama of the Adamsons as pioneering conservationists. Nature will revisit the people featured in the movie and discuss the importance and dangers of their revolutionary views about animals. Illuminated by George Adamson’s journal entries, archival home movies, and conversations with the Adamsons’ close confidants, the film reveals shifting attitudes about conservation and their impact on lions in Africa.