Born Free (1966)




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Born Free is the heartwarming true story of a British couple who teach their pet lioness how to survive in the wilds of the African jungles. Joy and George Adamson (portrayed by real-life married couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers) involuntarily domesticate several lions while living in Kenya. They keep one, named Elsa, until she is fully grown, and rather than turn her over to a zoo, they decide to train her to live like a wild animal so that they can release her into her natural habitat. Geoffrey Keen is a sympathetic government official who convinces the Adamsons that they should set Elsa free to avoid being ordered to place her in captivity. The film, based on Joy Adamson's book, is poignant and emotional without ever becoming banal or overly sentimental. The title song and film score both won Academy Awards.
Action & Adventure , Drama , Kids & Family
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In Theaters:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Virginia McKenna
as Joy Adamson
Bill Travers
as George Adamson
Geoffrey Keen
as Kendall
Geoffrey Best
as Watson
Omar Chambati
as Makkede
Brian Epsom
as Baker
Omar Chambath
as Makkede
Surya Patel
as Indian Doctor
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Critic Reviews for Born Free

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (2)

Gerald L. C. Copley has done a first rate adaptation of the true story of Joy Adamson, who with hubby George involuntarily domesticated several pet lions.

Full Review… | July 6, 2010
Top Critic

Without minimizing the facts of animal life or overly sentimentalizing them, this film casts an enchantment that is just about irresistible.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Director James Hill tackles the material in a manner that relies more on naturalistic behavior than cheap theatrics (i.e. no scenes of Elsa covering her eyes with her paws after a human does something imbecilic).

Full Review… | January 9, 2016
Creative Loafing

Beautifully shot, brilliantly scored by John Barry and sensitively staged by director James Hill, this charming adaptation of Joy Adamson's bestseller is one of the great animal films.

Full Review… | October 21, 2015
Radio Times

The nature photography is excellent, and real-life husband and wife McKenna and Travers are very good, their genuine affection transferring to the screen.

Full Review… | October 21, 2015
TV Guide

A popular family film, also known for its Oscar-winning score and song

Full Review… | April 26, 2011

Audience Reviews for Born Free


Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer


I'm on an animal jag now...saw this one somewhere along the line and it holds up well as a late nite DVD. Explores nicely our relationship with wild animals--what do we owe them in return for what to bring to our lives. Anyone who has ever lived with an animal can relate.

Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

The second half was much better than the first that laid most of the groundwork. Some parts were dreary and drawn out too long, but the movie was very moving and informative.

Chihoe Ho
Chihoe Ho

Super Reviewer

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