Watch Elephant Boy
- 1 hr 20 min
"Elephant Boy" is a 1937 British adventure film directed by Robert Flaherty and Zoltan Korda. The movie is based on a short story "Toomai of the Elephants" by British author Rudyard Kipling. The movie follows the life of a young Indian boy named Toomai who dreams of becoming a great elephant driver, like his father before him. The opening scene of the movie showcases the majestic elephants inhabited in the Indian jungle. The credit rolls as the camera follows a group of elephants marching through the dense forest. We then see an old man who is the leader of a group of elephant drivers, or "mahouts." He decides to take on Toomai as an apprentice and teach him about the ways of the elephants.
Toomai is portrayed by the young Indian actor Sabu, who delivers a captivating performance. His character is curious and eager to learn, fascinated with the wild behavior of the animals. The audience is drawn into his journey, as Toomai accompanies the mahouts on their daily tasks, leading the elephants to work in the forest, bathing them in the river, and feeding them sugar cane.
Toomai's adventurous spirit leads him to follow the elephants deep into the forest, where he encounters a clan of invading hunters who are intent on killing the animals for their ivory tusks. He quickly realizes the danger and hurries back to inform the mahouts.
The group attempts to put a stop to the hunters' plan, but they're outnumbered and outgunned. With no other option left, Toomai is sent to ask for help from British India's army patrol nearby. The camaraderie between the elephant drivers and the British army showcases mutual respect and diversity, which was significant in 1937.
Throughout the movie, the audience is treated to stunning visuals of the Indian jungles and its environment. The elephants are showcased throughout the film, representing a parallel story of their strength and the bond they share with the humans. The majestic beasts were portrayed with remarkable realism, courtesy of Flaherty's experience as an ethnographic filmmaker.
The film's score, composed by John Greenwood, features classical Indian themes blended with Western classical music. The music complements the movie's pace, tone, and emotions, ultimately enhancing the audience's viewing experience.
"Elephant Boy" proved to be a milestone film for the young Sabu, who went on to become a prominent child actor in Hollywood. His charming performance and boyish innocence were praised by critics, and he won the Best Juvenile Actor Award at the Venice Film Festival. He also became a household name, earning roles in movies such as "The Thief of Bagdad," "Jungle Book," and "Black Narcissus."
The movie stands the test of time, even after more than eight decades since its initial release. It highlights the indigenous people of India, their culture, and traditional ways of life. It's a window to a bygone era, portrayed with authenticity and honesty. Its message of conservation and respect for nature is still highly relevant today, making "Elephant Boy" an essential part of cinema history.
In conclusion, "Elephant Boy" is an enchanting and engaging classic that explores the lives of Indian elephant drivers during British colonial rule. The movie encapsulates the spirit of adventure, diversity, and the power of nature in a way that's both entertaining and informative. It's a must-see for any film buff or anyone looking for a great story.