Born Free Poster

Born Free (1966)

Adventure | Family   
IMDB Rayting:   7.3/10
Country: UK | USA
Language: English

The story of George and Joy Adamson and the orphaned lion cub, Elsa, they adopt.

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Paul-250 8 May 1999

Set in Kenya in the 1960's, and based on factual events, the film is the story of how a young orphaned lion cub is rescued by a British colonial couple who run a wildlife sanctuary and then prepared for a return to the wild. The scenery is spectacular, and the thin dividing line between death and survival in the wild is palpable. But the film is not only about struggle, it is, in an almost unique way, a love story too; one between a woman and a lioness. Hugely popular when released, the film still has the power to move. An especially good movie for families.

xavrush89 27 November 2003

Real-life husband and wife Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers play real-life husband and wife Joy and George Adamson. Strangely, the chemistry between them is really not played up here. Everything is focused on the cubs, perhaps as it should be. This film takes what could've just been another National Geographic episode and turns it into a "triumph of the spirit" story. When you watch this film, you understand the true meaning of freedom. And you can't help but look at that lion and want the best for her. The title song is a perfect ending to the film. It is too bad the Adamsons' lives did not have a happy ending like this story. The film keeps it simple, but there are still some emotional moments. It delivers what it promises.

Natheer 24 June 2005

It's really hard now days to get the same feelings that this film brings to your soul, innocence, love, devotion, honesty. It's all rare commodities in the today's life in general. It's really hard now days to get the same feelings that this film brings to your soul, innocence, love, devotion, honesty. It's all rare commodities in the today's life in general. Virginia McKenna & Bill Travers are the perfect couples.

The film brings you the atmosphere of the great African wildlife on its last glorious days; I and my family enjoyed this film very much. It was a wonderful experience for my kids its represent the animal in a realistic and compassionate way not like the cg cartoons or other comic animal films of todays.

preppy-3 27 December 2003

True life story. George and Joy Adamson (Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna) live in the wilderness in Kenya. In self defense, George kills a lion and his mate only to find they were protecting their three cubs. He and his wife decide to raise the cubs. They give two of them away to zoos, but can't part with Elsa, a lioness. But then they realize they can't keep her and don't want to put her in a zoo. Can they help her live in the wild?

I read the book "Born Free" when I was in grammar school in the 70s and loved it. I also vaguely remember seeing the movie on TV (and liking it) and the very short-lived (13 episodes) series in the early 70s. Also the song was a big hit in the mid 60s and again in the early 70s. But I had forgotten all about it until it popped up on TCM. I decided to tune in and loved it!

The movie was shot beautifully on location in Kenya (where it took place). Wide screen viewing is essential for this one. Also, Travers and McKenna were a real-life couple when they did this film (in fact they remained married until his death in 1994) and there devotion to each other comes through loud and clear. Also the lions (male and female) are SO cute when they're cubs and even beautiful as they get older. Elsa herself was portrayed by a number of different lionesses but you can't tell the difference. And Travers and McKenna worked with all the animals for 2 weeks before filming so they all interact together perfectly. This is perfect family viewing--adults will adore it as much as the kids.

I'm only giving it a 7 for a few reasons--there isn't much of a story and the film DOES drag a little. Also the cute little shots of the cubs get a little bit much. Yeah they are adorable, but it got to the point that I thought the filmmakers were purposely shoving them in our faces to get us to go "awwwwwwww"! A little bit too cute for my tastes.

Still it's a great film and the music in this one is fantastic (and Oscar-winning). Also I defy anyone not to cry during the final sequence--it even got to me and I'm the last person to cry at movies like this.

A very good family film. See it!

Smalling-2 13 April 2000

Joy Adamson and her husband, Kenya game warden George Adamson, bring up a lion cub Elsa, but later they have to teach her about the wild and free life she was born to.

Warm, good-looking but rather casually assembled screen version of a highly popular bestseller, with irresistible animal shots that made it enormously successful at the box-office - and over the years a family film "par excellence". It started a cycle then and was followed by the less successful "Living Free".

sddavis63 10 August 2002

This really is a wonderful movie - a true story; funny, dramatic, bittersweet, and with a title song that will never be forgotten by anyone who hears it.

Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers star as Joy and George Adamson. He is the game warden in a game reserve in northern Kenya; she is his wife, and together they adopt three orphaned lion cubs. Sending two of them to zoos, the third (Elsa, who was the darling of the bunch) stays behind and becomes something of a household pet, until the inevitable day comes when she has to be either taught to live in the wild on her own, or sent to a zoo.

You find yourself rooting for Elsa, shedding a few tears with Joy and in the end feeling quite uplifted by how the whole thing turns out. It's a fast movie (about an hour and a half in length) which is good, the editing I thought was a bit rough (although there are some great shots of Africa and its wild life) and in the end it's a great feel-good movie for the whole family.


teutonyx 22 July 2004

Innocence, the magnetism of the east African plains, and lions to boot! A great movie for a steamy summer night (atmosphere is important too). The score by John Barry is very good, and I imagine there are few 'boomers who would not recognize the strains of Matt Monro (not Perry Como) singing the title song. I always liked Bill Travers as an actor in all the roles I've seen him in, Born Free is no exception. Virginia McKenna's lovely soft soothing Scots brogue is honey to the ears, and she does a great job as Joy Adamson. How accurate their portrayals of the Adamson's are... well, it doesn't really matter. Elsa is the star, and that's how it should be. In short, great family fair for a movie at home.

Sintelin 25 February 2006

While thoroughly entertaining for audiences of all ages, this mostly accurate true story has the distinction of being one of the most important films ever released. Why you say? Until the publication of the Adamson Born Free trilogy of books (Born Free, Living Free and Forever Free) lions, and most wild animals, were considered in the human consciousness in one way - dangerous. This franchise of books and movies, most especially the widely viewed Born Free film, changed all of that throughout the entire world. The Adamsons, both in real life and as depicted so expertly by real life husband and wife actors Travers and McKenna (who actually spent as much time with their actor lions as the Adamsons had with Elsa and family had) demonstrated that a wild animal, Elsa, could be emotional and full of love for her caretakers. Having personally raised an African lion for more than a decade (not to mention countless other wild animals) I can attest to this being so. But more importantly Born free showed the world this was so. As an impressionable pre-teen when this film was initially released, I can recall the impact it had on all of those my age and their parents as well. That change in attitude continued to grow and the development of insightful studies via National Geo, Discovery Channel, et. al, has assisted mightily in helping protect animals. I'm afraid, without Born Free we would have succeeded in eradicating all free roaming wildlife, thank goodness that at least some remain! While Born Free accomplished this change in mankind's perspective, there are true heroes who have dedicated their lives to protecting animals in whatever manner they may. Perhaps the greatest of these protectors is world renowned Jane Goodall, who has been studying and communicating with the world on wild chimpanzees since the release of Born free in 1960 or so! People fret that the youth have no role models, they are out there folks, and visible, just need to direct these impressionable minds to the right people like Jane Goodall.

Pedro_H 13 November 2005

An English couple living in Kenya try to reintroduce an orphan lion cub back in to the wild. Based on a real story.

Family movies get a bad rap because they are usually films that only children enjoy and adults can bare only when drunk. Born Free is the kind of movie that can play well to both adults and children -- if they are the type that like wildlife.

You should never act with children or animals because they steal every scene they are in. Born Free features two very fine performances from real life couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers -- but when the cubs are on screen you won't be looking elsewhere.

I have read the book which I loved and well worth checking out because it is NOT a novelisation of this film -- Joyce Adamson (whose early life the script is based on) was not the angel of virtue she is portrayed here. She was a tough woman who made enemies and ruffled feathers. Her early death is another story and another film.

The problem with the film is that it has enough syrup in it without the extra sugar that is the title song. Also the real couple had personal problems that this film doesn't really want to deal with. From the nature of the film we know the final happy reel and are merely travelling towards it.

There aren't many films you can enjoy two or three times over and even get a bit emotional over -- but this is one such film. One for the DVD collection of all animal lovers. If you are the sort that doesn't subscribe to the Discovery Channel than you are better staying away.

garyldibert 29 March 2005

You always here the story or the expression that you can't take wild animals and try to them into pets. This movie tells and shows you why. The movie is based on a true story from a book by Joy Adamson. The movie is set back in the 1950 era when George Adamson who is the game warden for the Kenya area in Africa. While out on a routine run George has to kill a charging female lion in self defense. After George kills the lion he discovers that the lion was a mother as three lion cubs come out of no where. George takes the 3 cub's home because he knows that if he didn't the cubs will die. When the cubs get too much to handle they have to make the hardest decision of their life. Do they send the animals to the Rotterdam Zoo? Do they send all the cubs or do they keep one? To me the acting was great as Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna play George and Joy Adamson. As a side note McKenna also narrates the story as Joy voice-over, using the book. The real star of the show, though, is Elsa herself, actually played by three different lionesses. You can really see the genuine affection between the large cat and her caretakers as they interact. It is magical to watch. This movie would be great for you and your family because there's none of the following in this picture. There's really no violence, and there's no sex or any swearing for that matter. The entire movie was shot in Africa. If you can get the DVD the picture quality is as good as a movie that you would buy today. This review is based on my home addition of Born Free on DVD. You can get this DVD right here on and it by far better then the current VHS that's out there now. Based on the scenery alone I give this movie 7 weasel stars.

jckruize 27 October 2003

Esteemed producer Carl Foreman's name is on this modestly enjoyable family film, and his trademark attention to storytelling and production values ensure that this is a considerable cut above other such G-rated fare from the 60's. Based on Joy Adamson's bestselling book, it tells the true story of how the wife of a game warden in Kenya raises Elsa, an orphaned lion cub, then has to face the difficult task of training the adult lioness to return to the wild.

Pacing is stolid, the photography of authentic African locales impressive (with the exception of a couple of poorly-integrated stock shots of attacking lions), and John Barry's Oscar-winning score is memorable if a bit overblown. The acting by real-life spouses Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers is excellent. Interaction of the lion cubs, and later, the star feline Elsa, with the human actors is often remarkable. Recommended for kids over 8 and their parents, who won't be bored.

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