Do not be foolishly mistaken by the image on the cover as I was. I wasn’t paying full attention the last couple of years while this film was being made and released. Also, do not be put off by the fact that this is not a documentary about pandas. Born In China provides a great snapshot of the vast and varied landscape and wildlife in China. One of the opening scenes showcases snow leopards and an amazing display of restrained aggression. How do the filmmakers get these shots? As with most every other DisneyNature documentary there are some amazing and breathtaking shots.
Another of the amazing sequences we see is the birth of a chiru (a relative of the antelope). And of course any time you get shots of pandas relaxed in the wild is a cause for celebration.
Initially set against the backdrop of the changing seasons we are given moments in each animal’s lives. There is the panda, the chiru, the snow leopard, and a golden snub-nosed monkey. Each of these animals are given a moment of tenderness, there is no deep examination of the lives or habitat, which is fine. As as overview of the natural world in China, this is an great way to introduce people to some animals that aren’t always given much attention.
I’m not sure how much of the narrative in the four lives we are introduced to is manufactured through the editing process but it is not difficult to see how these are real scenarios that are being presented. There is a scene at about the 65 minute mark that demonstrates just how “true” too a natural narrative the filmmakers are trying to present. It isn’t a happy one, but I am very glad it was shown because it’s real.
There are some special features on the Blu-ray, one featurette for each of the animals that are the focus of Born In China. Panda Suits & Bamboo Shoots spends about 6 minutes on the challenges of filming pandas. Walking With Monkeys is 8 minutes looking at filming the golden snub-nosed monkey in winter. Masters Of Camouflage spends just under 5 minutes with the crew looking for the snow leopards. Wading Through Wetlands is 5 minutes with the crane film crew. Then there is a music video as well.
Born In China is not what I had initially expected, but I think the product as presented is excellent and perhaps more interesting than what I had thought it would be.