An Elephant Called Slowly

Watch An Elephant Called Slowly

  • G
  • 1970
  • 1 hr 31 min
  • 5.8  (140)

An Elephant Called Slowly is a 1970 adventure film that takes its audience on an exotic journey to the plains of Kenya, drawing viewers into the lives of a British couple who find themselves amidst the wild African landscapes and the fascinating creatures that call it home. Directed by James Hill, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Bill Travers, the movie stars real-life couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers along with Vinay Inambar in a story of discovery, friendship, and the deep connection between humans and animals.

The film follows the couple, Virginia and Bill, who return to Africa where they had previously spent many years. As they seek to recapture the magic of their past experiences and explore the Kenyan wilderness, they encounter a wide array of wildlife and stunning vistas that make the African savannah an enchanting backdrop to their adventure.

Characterized by its gentle tempo mirroring the titled creature's pace of life, An Elephant Called Slowly showcases the majesty and beauty of the African bush. The couple's reunion with their environment is marked by moments of serenity and the simple pleasures of a life lived close to nature. Throughout their journey, they are greeted by creatures small and large, from mongoose to buffalo.

Central to the film’s narrative is the trio's remarkable friendship with three elephants, with the most notable bond forming between Virginia, Bill, and the film's namesake, an amiable young elephant named Pole Pole, which translates to "Slowly" in Swahili. This creates a touching portrait of interspecies companionship and empathy. The natural behavior of these animals is documented with an affectionate eye, avoiding the staged antics that can sometimes pervade animal films. This gives An Elephant Called Slowly an air of authenticity that further immerses the audience in the couple's experience.

As audiences follow the high-spirited exploits of Virginia and Bill, they are introduced to various aspects of Kenyan culture and lifestyles. The character played by Vinay Inambar serves as a bridge to the local human population, providing insights into their customs and their relationship with the surrounding wildlife. His role underscores the movie’s implicit commentary on the coexistence of humans and animals.

The husband-and-wife duo's passion for wildlife extends to their off-screen lives, as McKenna and Travers were known for their animal conservation work, notably being involved with the foundation of the Born Free Foundation. Their authentic enthusiasm for their surroundings brings a genuine sense of wonder and affection to their characters, which is palpable in their onscreen performances.

Visually, the film stands out with its enduring and breathtaking cinematography. The sweeping shots of the Kenyan landscape, with the grandeur of Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, are coupled with intimate wildlife scenes that serve not only as a visual feast for audiences but also as a poignant reminder of the fragility and majesty of the natural world. The camera work by director of photography Harvey Harrison captures the diverse textures of the environment, from the lush verdancy of the jungle to the sprawling golden plains.

The narrative pace matches the laid-back vibe of the journey, allowing for an immersive experience rather than an action-packed drama. This subtlety is complemented by a soundtrack steeped in the sounds of Africa, both with its music and the natural symphony of the savannah. The aural atmosphere supports the film's gentle unfolding of character arcs and wildlife encounters.

Messages regarding conservation and respect for wildlife are interwoven into the narrative, as the film does not shy away from hinting at the detrimental effects human actions can have on natural habitats. An Elephant Called Slowly may serve as an early cinematic ambassador for environmental consciousness, aiming to inspire viewers to consider their own impact on the world around them.

While An Elephant Called Slowly may not feature the high stakes or rapid-fire pacing of contemporary adventure films, it offers a reprieve in its slow-burning charm and the romantic allure of a life intertwined with nature. It is a quintessential example of 1970s cinema that prioritizes experience and ambiance over plot-driven storytelling. For those who appreciate wildlife, stunning cinematography, and an unassuming narrative, An Elephant Called Slowly is a gentle testament to the beauty of our natural world and the depths possible within human-animal relationships.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 31 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.8  (140)