To Walk with Lions, 1999.
Directed by Carl Schultz.
Starring John Michie, Richard Harris, Kerry Fox, Ian Bannen, Hugh Quarshie, Honor Blackman and Geraldine Chaplin.
An arrogant young man (Michie) travelling through Africa crosses paths with George Adamson (Harris), a world-famous lion tamer. Adamson employs Tony and teaches him about the lions and land.
Oscar-winning Born Free was a thoroughly charming film. The story of lovable lions raised by George and Joy Adamson was understandably enjoyed by millions. To Walk with Lions still retains some of the affability of the 1966 gem but is nothing outstanding by itself.
Had it not been for Richard Harris (this one of his last roles) I can’t imagine To Walk with Lions having much of a reputation. Fortunately for the film Harris gives a tremendous performance; he is fearless, fragile and formidable – becoming George Adamson in all his glory. Near the end of the film Harris erupts from within him and emotion outburst, quality enough to warrant more notice.
The lead actor, John Michie (probably best known for his part in Coronation Street) does not stand much of a chance making an impact next to the legendary actor, though he does makes a good go at it. He manages to carry a film that tediously revolves more around land laws and a lady than the celebrated lion tamer.
The action we want to see more of (the lions in the preserve and in the wild, interactions with the poachers, and Adamson at work) is not on show as much as you’d hope/expect. The few incidences that garner the most tension and excitement are very thrilling, however. Schultz as a director is capable of great drama but with a lacklustre script, Schultz and the actors are left with an uninspiring film.
It has some terrific cinematography and music at points though they get lost in the film’s overall mediocrity. To Walk with Lions works as a perfect Sunday afternoon film (solemn and calming tonally), and might be a must for lion and nature lovers, but isn’t one you should rush out to find.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Piers McCarthy – Follow me on Twitter.