The Circle of Life
Africa: the Serengeti
Review by Ross Anthony

Cheetahs darting to speeds of up to 70 mph -- taking down a gazelle, lions romping with their cubs, baboons bubbling around the forest, croc's halving wildebeests, wildebeests giving birth. It's the real "Circle of life" beautifully captured with close up shots, understanding and appreciation for the rich animal stomping grounds of Kenya and Tanzania.

I've spent a year in Africa myself and enjoyed three or four safaris. Of course, a theater will never give you the actual experience of the Serengeti and film can never replace vision, but the images here are abundant with high quality animal life and rich with animal emotion.

The big voice of James Earl Jones nestles comfortably into one of modern technologies greatest sound systems -- they were made for each other. If you don't recognize that voice, watch the first "Star Wars" and listen to the man in the black mask. Of course, besides his strong audio, many interesting facts migrate across the narration. Wildebeest can travel 50 miles in one night, lions miss 4 out of 5 of their attacks, a wildebeest newborn must stand within minutes or will be left behind.

Additionally, the fascinating Masai tribe are included. Though, I've heard that Masai teens go out into the forest alone at night and must kill a lion before they return to the tribe to be called men -- I would have loved to see this rite of passage captured on film.

Appropriately so, the picture doesn't stray from the killing habits of the wild and even sex lives of big cats, nor does it linger on the carnage. In fact, almost as an artificial contrasting upbeat ending note, the last scene captures the triumph of a wobbly wildebaby standing for the very first time.

Though technically a documentary, this film is a 40 minute safari.

  • Africa: the Serengeti. Copyright © 1994.
  • Narrated by James Earl Jones.
  • Directed by George Casey.
  • Produced by Graphic Films Corporation and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:21:01 PDT