Directed by Tim Phillips
Starring Bob Barker, Jorja Fox, Jan Creamer, Tim Phillips
Documentary Film Review by Rachel Pullen
Blackfish, The Cove, The Elephant in the Living Room, are but a few of the many eye opening documentaries which explore the world of animal cruelty as well as animal captivity, and that’s not even looking at those who investigate the meat industry. To call the market over saturated is unfair, it’s simply that we as human beings can be pretty disgusting when it comes to respecting and caring for our fellow mammals.
As a devout animal lover, spending my free time volunteering for an animal rescue centre, being one of those vegan people who you have probably heard so much about on the internet, I’m not new to the world of animal documentaries, in fact I have seen all the ones listed above...but no I don’t wear hemp and have dreadlocks before you even start to wonder.
So when I sat down to indie documentary Lion Ark I was prepared to be emotionally moved.
Lion Ark follows the story the Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips, founders of Animal Defenders Intl, who travel to Bolivia to rescue 25 lions from a range of different circuses, dubbed operation "Lion Ark", they put together a team in order to make this feat a reality and deliver they lions to a sanctuary in Colorado.
Travelling from circus to circus the audience is exposed to appalling living conditions as well as treatment these lions have had to endure, some never leaving the confines of their cages for over 10 years, some never even running on grass or seeing the sky.
The distress that these animals are going through is apparent from the start of this film, and yet Lion Ark’s hook within the field of other documentaries of this nature, is that the audience are connected to these animals by watching every stage of their journey; we are exposed to the dramatic changes in behaviour and personality that the lions display when shown a little compassion, and in a delightful scene whereby they are given simply some hay to stimulate them, the lions cannot hide their enjoyment in having such a pleasure.
Yet Lion Ark in comparison to other documentaries lacks in dramatics, due to law changes most of the circuses are willing to hand over the animals, and so the documentary does have the feel of trying to generate drama in order to lure in the audience.
Personally I feel that this is not necessary, for anyone interested in wildlife, this will be an interesting and eye opening watch, but the documentary could do with being narrated by someone with a more interesting voice, however competent Creamer is at rescuing lions, being the lead narrator in a documentary is certainly not her thing.