Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says OK for kids 6+
Compelling classic nature story with some animal violence.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this heartwarming story about returning a tamed lion to the wild doesn't shy away from showing nature as it is. Lions kill and devour animals frequently and are shot and killed by wardens; Elsa the lion causes an elephant stampede, nearly starves, and is roughed up by other lions; and one lion even kills a human, though only blood in a river is shown. Viewers will enjoy both the love Joy Adamson shows Elsa the lion by setting her free and the beautiful views of Kenya and all its wonderful wildlife.
- Families can talk about human responsibility to nature. What makes us good stewards of the Earth? How do we care for the animals and plants around us?
- Families can also talk about their favorite nature stories. What makes a movie about animals good? Is it the far-flung places you get to visit or the up-close looks into animal nature or something else entirely?
The good stuff
Educational value: Shot on location in and around Kenya, viewers will get to see animals in the wild with predators chasing and killing prey, and see the life of a Kenya game warden in the 1960s. They will also see the pains the Adamsons take in turning a very tame lion into a wild and self-sufficient lion.
Positive messages: As the title spells out, this movie explores what it means for an animal to be free and living in the wild. It may be more dangerous, but it speaks to an animal's true spirit. It's also a lesson in letting go.
Positive role models: Joy Adamson cares so much about Elsa the lion that she works tirelessly to set her free and make her self-sufficient. Her husband, even while recovering from malaria, continues to help his wife succeed.
What to watch for
Violence and scariness: The opening scene shows lions devouring a zebra. Other animals are eaten, some are shot at by wardens, including the parents of the orphaned lions. One lion kills a woman; viewers see a lion rush at her cowering figure and then blood running in a river. A beloved pet dies of old age. Elsa the lion nearly starves and is bloodied by other lions. George contracts malaria and has a fit from taking too much medicine. Elephants stampede and a village is shown afterward in ruins.
Sex: A kiss.
Language: "Dammit" is uttered once.
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: A small animal is chastized for drinking alcohol left on a table. Adults drink at meals.