Light-hearted Disneynature documentary looks at colorful species native to China
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
Photo illustration by Jean Johnson / The Detroit News
The panda MeiMei and a
Golden snub-nosed monkey (lower left) is featured in “Born in