It is very rare that movies and novels depict a good animal theme and do full justice to it. With this month’s theme being on Wildlife, we would surely like to direct your attention to some of the best movies and books on animals, and we’re confident that you will agree with our choice.
My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell
This is the narrative of British naturalist Gerald Durrell and his time spent on the magical Greek island of Corfu when his family shifted there during his childhood for a few years. He was an animal-lover and enthusiast from an early age, trapping spiders and their babies in matchboxes to observe them and keeping pet turtles and taking care of them. He used to spend his time in the garden or greeneries of the island and spend hours on end observing the animals, birds, or reptiles there. To his dismay, his siblings comprised of two brothers; one interested in books and the other in guns, and a narcissistic sister. Everyone loathed the creepy, crawly creatures Gerald bought home and often scolded him on his weird tastes.
The book has been written in an extremely delightful manner, with accurate and vivid descriptions from a keen observer of nature. The narrative has been spiced up with dashes of humor here and there, like the screams and cries of his family members upon finding insects or reptiles in their personal spaces thanks to their younger brother and the exchange of heated and cursed words that follow.
This is a very relaxing book indeed as it has a slow pace and detailed description, immersing the reader into the world of Corfu. One could read it for hours on end and be amused at the ongoings of the narrator’s life and how well he has sewn his beastly anecdotes into a complete picture.
Watership Down, Richard Adams
This highly well-written piece of literature is a deep comment on human activities and how they send the lives of animals into complete turmoil. The story is about how a rabbit in a warren senses the imminent danger his home faces and escapes with his comrades. Facing hardships along the way, they remain steadfast. They come across other warrens, escape dangers, and continuously struggle, but remain positive. The best part of the book is the ending when they successfully build their dream warren at Watership Down. The plot has many twists and turns, and it would not be just at all if they were discussed here because then the book would not be fun to read anymore.
The main themes of this book are the continuous hardships between tyranny and freedom and the decision taken to achieve peace and a perfect society to live in. The plot has been portrayed brilliantly and keeps the reader hooked till the end, tense about the future of the rabbits. If you haven’t read this book yet, how can you call yourself an animal-lover?
Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White
This cute children’s book about a little girl and her pet piglet is, I am sure, a part of everyone’s bookshelf. The tragic fate of farm animals has been highlighted in this book. Wilbur is a piglet too small for his size, and the farmer plans to shoot him. His little daughter is adamant at the treachery her father is about to inflict on a poor animal and raises her voice for justice for the pig. Her father gives her a time limit to care for the pig and see if she can fatten him up. It follows the beautiful descriptions of how the girl lovingly raises the pig, feeding it with milk bottles and cuddling it. The whole time she is worried about the fate of the pig.
Time passes, and the girl grows up, finding lesser time for the pig and thus neglecting him. It is then that a spider who has witnessed everything hatches a clever plan to make the pig famous and thus save his life.
This is a beautiful story describing the stress felt by animals who know their fate and how humans are only interested in the meat and money they make from them. Also, the concept that one animal species can indeed help another of their animal family is illustrated in this book.
The Jungle Book
This epic tale of how a ‘man-cub’ ends up in the jungle and is raised by a pack of wolves is seriously one of the best movies enjoyed in childhood. How the animals lovingly raise the little boy Mowgli and consider him of his kin is quite heart-warming. But the terror of the jungle, Sher Khan the tiger sees Mowgli as a threat and plans to kill him.
Sher Khan had killed Mowgli’s parents in the past when he attacked the nearby jungle, and he hates man because of the ‘red flower,’ i.e., fire. There follows a chilling battle between the tiger and the man-cub, where both fight bravely until the tiger meets his demise, and the whole forest is on fire. Mowgli has saved the animals from the threat of Sher Khan but must decide between his jungle family or his village people.
The Lion King
Mufasa, King of the jungle, is blessed with a cub whom he names Simba and all the animals celebrate the arrival of the future lion king, except for Scar, Mufasa’s brother. He had planned to take the throne after his throne, but now Simba is the predecessor and is loathed by Scar from Day One.
Simba grows up to be an adventurous little cub, wishing to follow his father across the kingdom on his errands. His father forbids him to go to the Elephant Graveyard because of the hungry hyenas, but Scar lures him into going there. Simba, along with his best friend Nala, ventures beyond the limits and is encircled by a pack of hyenas who are about to eat them, but Mufasa saves them at the last moment.
There follows a father-son lesson of the ‘circle of life,’ which describes the delicate balance between prey and predators and life, death, and decay. Scar plans the death of Mufasa, blames it on Simba, and has him flee the forest and grabs the throne. Since he lets the hyenas hunt freely, the balance is disturbed, and the kingdom is dilapidating. Meanwhile, Simba makes friends with Timon and Pumba, who enjoy life with the motto of ‘Hakuna Matata,’ meaning no worries. Nala escapes the kingdom, finds Simba, and motivates him to come back, to which he refuses. Then Simba hears his father talking to him from the skies and reminding him of his responsibility as king. Their follows a blood-curdling confrontation with Scar, where Simba finds out the truth of his father’s death and takes his revenge.
The best part of this movie is all the songs that are so lively and engaging and give meaning to the film as well as its colorful and realistic portrayal of life in an animal kingdom.
What are some of your favorite animal anecdotes and plots? Do share in the comment section below!
Aniqa is a student of BS Biochemistry at Quaid e Azam University, based in Islamabad. Her particular interests include reading novels, watching movies, writing, and a variety of artwork. She loves food and is a photographer by nature, loves to travel and explore new places.