It’s time to explore another part of the globe this Earth Day with Disneynature’s Born in China. Following the stories of cranes, pandas, antelope, monkeys and snow leopards, moviegoers once again get to gaze upon gorgeous landscapes and stunning time-lapse photography, this time in the far-reaching wilds of China. Taking place through a year’s worth of seasons, the story begins with the mythic Red-crowned Crane.
It is said that when a crane takes flight, it carries along the spirit of a departed creature from this world to the next.
This sets the stage for the intimate and sometimes harrowing moments in the lives of an over-protective panda, a misplaced monkey, and a struggling mother leopard. Interspersed with the migration of a herd of antelope, each story finds moments of humor, drama, suspense, and triumph, but be warned, this is real-life and not all will have a happy ending.
Those who have seen Monkey Kingdom (2015), will undoubtedly enjoy the antics of the mischievous golden snub-nose monkey named TaoTao. His life is interrupted with the arrival of a new baby sister. No longer the center of attention, his rebellious spirit lead to him to join the “Lost Boys,” a group of misfits led by a one-eye ruffian named Rooster. TaoTao, left to mind for himself, contemplates whether a life of frolic and fun means more to him than finding his place within the family. From the branch breaking hijinks during the summer months to the delicate snow-stepping in the winter, these animals behavior amongst are among the most dynamic and interesting to watch.
No story about China would be complete without featuring their most renowned creature, the giant panda. MeiMei is newborn baby panda, who has the opposite problem of her monkey co-star. As the cutest, cuddliest, and sweetest, little ball of fluff on the planet, her mom YaYa cannot help but fuss over her; loving, licking, and smothering her with love. It’s a story any parent (or child) can relate to and rightfully so. While it takes a lot of courage, skill, and determination to become an accomplished tree climber, it takes even more willpower to sit on the sidelines and watch your precious bundle of joy fall down and tumble, just as YaYa must do. The emotional connection between these two is the most joyous and heartfelt of the stories, and showcases all the reasons why the world has such a strong love-affair with pandas.
The third story takes place in China’s Qinghai Plateau, the highest mountain plateau on Earth, and is the home of Dawa, a snow leopard, and her two cubs. In this harsh and unforgiving terrain, Dawa endures immense hardship in caring for her young as she fights for territory and food. The high-stakes encounters are filled with primal growls, tense moments, and dramatic action making it the most visceral and immersive of all the stories.
The filmmakers ability to craft stories that feel reflective of the human experience is what has made the Disneynature series so engaging and “Born in China” is no exception. This film superbly explores the circle of life in a very emotional and uplifting way. It is fascinating to see animals that live worlds apart still share the same values as mankind. As narrator, John Krasinski (“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” NBC’s “The Office,” “Amazon’s “Jack Ryan”) brings a relatable and familiar quality to an otherwise oriental landscape. In addition, the anthropomorphic dialogue he gives to the animals helps to deliver some of the films funnier moments.
Opening in U.S. theaters on April 21, 2017, “Born in China” is directed by accomplished Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan, and produced by Disney’s Roy Conli and renowned nature filmmakers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman. The film features a traditional orchestral score composed by Emmy®-winner Barnaby Taylor that incorporates authentic Chinese flavors. Moviegoers who see Disneynature’s new True Life Adventure film “Born in China” during its opening week (April 21-27, 2017) will benefit the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Based on opening-week attendance, Disneynature, via the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, will make a contribution to the WWF to help protect wild pandas and snow leopards in China.