Disneynature, Disney’s own nature documentary division, launched in 2008, is dedicated to carrying forth The Walt Disney Company’s mission of conservation that has been a long-standing value of the company. With the addition of donating to conservation and animal protection initiatives, Disney’s love for nature stretches back to its earliest years. In 1948, Walt Disney created the True-Life Adventure series that explored nature through quirky and fun documentaries that led to notable Academy Awards for Disney in their efforts as nature filmmakers. Today, Disneynature carries forth that same legacy, and with one of their latest feature films, Elephant, a Disney+ exclusive, they showcase their incredible innovation and exceptional storytelling abilities that further cement Disney as a global leader in filmmaking and in conservation and documentation efforts.
Elephant is directed by Mark Linfield, who has become a staple to Disneynature following his previous works on Earth (2008), Chimpanzee (2012) and Monkey Kingdom (2015). Elephant is yet another truly mesmerizing cinematic experience that is so wonderfully transfixing and another impressive addition to a long line of astonishing feats. Without exception, Disneynature’s films have pushed the boundaries of cinematography in nature documentary storytelling, and Elephant is no exception. Its sequences are breathtaking, making it’s Disney+ release almost a small disappointment that its full sweeping beauty will not be witnessed on a large screen. Considering that in a setting such as this one, a filmmaker must be prepared to film unpredictable things at unpredictable moments, it is astonishing to witness the feats pulled off by this crew.
Something that sets Disneynature apart from some of its nature documentary competitors is its dedication to story. At the heart of all Disney films, the story always comes first; but in this situation, a story could not possibly be guaranteed or storyboarded — everything that will come of this can only be the result of unpredictable events. The crew at Disneynature truly understands great storytelling and put great work in following and then later crafting, compelling stories rather than a sequence of fascinating occurrences. At Disney, storytelling is king, and Disneynature understands the importance of showcasing a great and powerful story.
This film is also notable for its star-power. Megan, The Duchess of Sussex (a.k.a Meghan Markle), makes her Disney debut as the film’s narrator, and she does an excellent job at adding drama and comedy throughout the film. Markle is notable for her dedication to Elephant protection, and she uses this opportunity (and the script, co-written by Linfield and Alastair Fothergill), to bring attention to the fact that many of the dangers that threaten the survival of Elephants in these regions are man-made. The film doesn’t shy away from making several mentions of the threats that face these elephants, which uses a call-to-action from its viewers and hopes to create some awareness and perhaps some potential encouragement to its viewers to donate to causes that help in the same missions the film cares deeply for.
Disneynature is one of the divisions of The Walt Disney Company that continuously exceed at continuing to uphold the values of the Disney brand, and Elephant is another exciting entry into an already impressive label of films. It makes for an excellent addition to the rather starved roster of original-content for Disney+, and a must-see film for any fans of Disneynature.
Disneynature’s Elephant is now streaming on Disney+