The Living Desert

Watch The Living Desert

  • G
  • 1953
  • 1 hr 9 min
  • 7.4  (1,674)
  • 69

The Living Desert is a 1953 American documentary film, directed by James Algar and produced by Walt Disney Productions. The film was the first in Disney's True-Life Adventures series and follows the wildlife of the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. The film is narrated by Winston Hibler, who provides a wealth of information on the flora and fauna of the desert. The movie starts with an overview of the barren landscape of the desert, highlighting the extreme conditions that many of the animals must endure to survive. As the film progresses, viewers are introduced to a variety of animals, from pocket mice and kangaroo rats to roadrunners and lizards.

One of the most captivating scenes in the film showcases the Sonoran Desert's famous Gila monster. Hibler explains how the venomous lizard has adapted to its environment, including its eating habits, its reliance on the sun's warmth to regulate its body temperature, and how it survives without water for long periods. The film also provides a glimpse into the life cycle of a Gila monster, showing its hatching and early life stages.

Another unforgettable animal in The Living Desert is the rattlesnake. The film depicts the snake's hunting pattern and demonstrates how its sense of smell and temperature help it locate prey. The documentary also covers the role of the snake in the ecosystem as a predator and how it is preyed upon by birds of prey like eagles and hawks.

Apart from reptiles, the movie also showcases the diverse birdlife that resides in the Sonoran Desert. The film focuses on the roadrunner bird and its admirably unwavering attitude towards the heat, cactus arms, and rattlesnakes that inhabit the desert around it. Seen as a social bird with distinct personalities, the roadrunner displays playful antics, and viewers are given insight into their hunting habits and unique features.

The Living Desert also illustrates plant life and how it is affected by the extreme climate of the Sonoran Desert. Short segments in the film depict the unique methods that plants use for survival, such as the way the ocotillo plant retrieves water and the Saguaro cactus's contribution in preserving life during the scorching daytime heat.

The Living Desert was a remarkable achievement in 1953 and won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Not only did it educate viewers on the unique ecology of the Sonoran Desert, but it also served as a testament to the wondrous beauty found in nature. The film's groundbreaking and innovative techniques significantly contributed to the production of subsequent nature documentaries by Disney and other filmmakers.

In conclusion, The Living Desert is a well-crafted documentary that teaches viewers about the intricate relationships between living creatures and their environment. By showcasing the unique adaptations and survival strategies of animals and plants in the Sonoran Desert, the film offers an unforgettable glimpse into nature's magnificence. If you have yet to experience this timeless classic, be sure to add it to your watchlist.

The Living Desert is a 1953 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 9 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.4 and a MetaScore of 69.

The Living Desert
Where to Watch The Living Desert
The Living Desert is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Disney+, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Living Desert for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 9 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (1,674)
  • Metascore