Monday, April 4, 2011

The Last Lions (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
The Last Lions

In "The Last Lions", actor Jeremy Irons gives this dramatic wildlife documentary the proper apprehensive tone. Fans of Mr. Irons will recall with relish the sinister voice that he gave to his character in "The Lion King" as Scar.
In this film, he tells the story of a single mother lioness, Ma di Tau. The lioness is in desperate straits from the start. Members of her pride were mauled by a rival group. As a single mother lioness she is saddled with the responsibility of two cubs.: one active and eager to hunt, the other slow to move and timid. Menace is everywhere. in the lake, and in the open field. 
The lioness is in a genuine existential position in keeping with nature. Ma di Tau has the pathos and anxiety of any human counterpart. Her being is akin to Kafka in the jungle. 
There is only one recourse: an island on the river. There she is safe from the half blind Femme Fatale known as Silvereye, who is no less lethal for her disability. Ma di Tau herself removed Silvereye's left eye in self defense. Needless to say, they are sworn enemies. 
Despite the James Bond nickname and the gory cat-fight, this is not a leonine version of Tarrantino's "Kill Bill" (although one might wish for  humorous one- liners) but only Nature  without pretense or illusion.
The photography is startling. Painterly landscapes merge with portrait quality studies of these marvelous creatures that echo the portrait works  of Dorothea Lange and Yousuf Karsh. There is even a Grim Reaper buzzard that rises in the sky like something from Terry Gilliam. 
Alas, the only sorcery here is Nature herself.
When the last scene rises on Ma di Tau, she stands like a mother anti-hero seemingly alone with her last cub to face the green marshes of circumstance. Yet without indecision, she remains feral and maternal, a bestial homemaker with savagery and snarl, a wild island of hope.
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