on 29 August 2010
Any film that the Kordas made is worth investigating, and the same can certainly be said for the work of pioneer documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty. That documentarist's eye is evident in the production of 1937's black-and-white 'Elephant Boy', based on Rudyard Kipling's 'Toomai of the Elephants'. In addition, here is the screen debut of the actor Sabu, in real life the son of a mahout of the Maharaja of Mysore, and who at just 13 years old gives a fine performance as the mahout devoted to his beloved, splendid, and imperiled pachyderm, 'Kala Nag'. The cinematography by Oscar-nominated Osmond Boradaile has a lustre that captures the beauty and character of rural India and its elephant culture. (The Kordas would present Sabu again a few years later in the wonderful 1940 technicolor triumph 'The Thief of Bagdad').
This edition of 'Elephant Boy' from the UK is the only available on DVD, to my knowledge. The print used for the DVD could benefit from restoration, for sound particularly. The back packaging says "Outstanding African wildlife photography... " I seem to recall that India is in Asia, not Africa. Did plate tectonics move it there while I wasn't looking? Despite these minor typographical errors and shortcomings of this release by the Network company, my hats off to them in gratitude for making this wonderful, historic, and charming film available.
on 28 April 2013
Yes it's old & Sabu died many,many years ago but this film still has a charm which has gone forever. I first saw it when I was a child in the early 1950's.
A way of life in India, which has now virtually totally vanished, this makes for a good history lesson, albeit a story, of how the Brits used to behave in colonial days & gives the viewer an idea of how elephants were used for logging work in the Indian jungle.(We used to watch this same activity in jungle areas of Thailand in the 1960's)
Sabu was an "elephant boy" - when Alexander Korda found him. His good looks & cheeky charm won Sabu the role & changed his life forever.
Sadly for Korda & Hollywood - Sabu grew up & the film world could not accommodate an adult Sabu, but he continued to live in the USA with his wife & family.
Thanks to his few films, cheeky, charming Sabu will outlive us all.