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Born Free (1966, Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers)

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Born Free is the true story of George (Bill Travers) and Joy (Virginia McKenna) Adamson, game wardens in Kenya, who rescue a young abandoned lion cub that they name Elsa and raise as a pet. But as Elsa grows, she begins to wreak havoc in the Adamson household and Joy determines that she must re-educate Elsa about life in the wild so that she can eventually return to the free life she was born to lead.

Given the topic and, despite its setting, the very Englishness of the two leads, this film was astonishingly popular around the world and won two Oscars for the composer John Barry. There is a certain innocence about McKenna and Travers but two such consummate actors also manage to porrtray their love for each other (not hard, since they were married and had already starred in such films as Ring of Bright Water and The Smallest Show on Earth ), while McKenna, already loved by British film fans for films such as Carve Her Name with Pride and A Town Like Alice , bought her fragile beauty to another tough role.

And, of course, there is no forgetting Elsa, the lion they raised and returned to the wild, setting an example for future raising/ returning programmes, including the Born Free Foundation, which the two actors founded in 1984.

production details
UK / 95 minutes / 1966

Director: James Hill
Writers: Joy Adamson (book), Lester Cole (screenplay),

cast
Virginia McKenna as Joy Adamson
Bill Travers as George Adamson
Geoffrey Keen as Kendall
Peter Lukoye as Nuru
Omar Chambati as Makkede
Bill Godden as Sam
Robert S. Young as James
Bryan Epsom as Baker
Geoffrey Best as Watson
Robert Cheetham as Ken
Surya Patel as Doctor

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