Light-hearted Dis­ney­na­ture doc­u­men­tary looks at col­or­ful species na­tive to China

The Detroit News - - Front Page -

Dis­ney­na­ture doc­u­men­taries have a way of making you say “aww.” They are built for chil­dren and as such they are fo­cused on the cute stuff, de­signed to show the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween hu­mans and an­i­mals. A Na­tional Ge­o­graphic doc­u­men­tary may not pause for footage of mon­keys run­ning through the snow on their tip toes over a play­ful mu­sic cue that makes the se­quence feel like a car­toon, but that’s Dis­ney­na­ture’s bread and but­ter.

“Born in China” has plenty of cute stuff, and also shines a broad light on the majestic, an­cient land of China. It works as a sam­pler plat­ter of what China has to of­fer, a travel brochure in film form.

“Born in China” spends one year look­ing at a small hand­ful of an­i­mals na­tive to the coun­try, in­clud­ing panda bears, snub-nosed mon­keys and snow leop­ards. Di­rec­tor Chuan Lu em­beds with the an­i­mals, fo­cus­ing on the fam­ily dy­nam­ics of each of the species. He watches a snow leop­ard de­fend her moun­tain to get food for her cubs, a gi­ant panda teach­ing her baby to sur­vive on its own and a group of mon­keys for whom fam­ily is a fluid con­cept. (Per­haps they need to watch one of the “Fast and Fu­ri­ous” movies to get a bet­ter grip on the sub­ject.)

The film is bro­ken up into four sea­sons, and dur­ing each of those sea­sons, we drop in on the dif­fer­ent an­i­mals like

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Photo il­lus­tra­tion by Jean Johnson / The Detroit News

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The panda MeiMei and a

Golden snub-nosed mon­key (lower left) is fea­tured in “Born in


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