The trailer for the new documentary Island of Lemurs: Madagascar attempts to tell you all that’s needed to get you to go see it in the nearest iMAX 3D cinema. “A real place you could never imagine. Strange creatures you will never forget.” That’s not false advertising either, and the narrator, Morgan Freeman, is eloquent in his support of the film.
Lemurs is filmed on Madagascar (the fourth largest island in the world) with all its spectacular scenery, to the tune of a soundtrack that incorporates all the appropriate music of this largely undeveloped though vastly over-exploited corner of the planet. Madagascar’s landscapes alone are worth the ticket to see, but the Lemurs are certainly one of the most appealing branches of the animal kingdom, now imperiled by the usual human depredations.
Having explained the arrival of these primates on the island (castaways from Africa) millions of years ago, the film goes on to follow the mission of Dr. Patricia Wright and her team as they study Lemurs in their natural habitat and attempt to save them from extinction. Because of the wide geographical variety, hundreds of different species evolved from those originals; already many of them are extinct.
As with any documentary relating to wildlife, environmental politics are heavily involved but necessarily left very much in the background: Madagascar’s current government may or may not take more responsibility for its natural resources, but the film serves very well in pointing out the problems and the looming possibility of a complete loss of habitat for lemurs in the wild.
Morgan Freeman, now 76 and as convincing a narrator as he is an actor, said that kids should be watching this kind of programming instead of the usual TV fare; kids especially need to learn the importance of diversity in nature and how the human population is killing it off at a catastrophic rate.
Most intriguing, however, is the wonderful photographic portrayal of these gentle acrobats who sing, dance and fly through the air – just for fun and without any prompting whatsoever – it’s their nature.
AS for the 40-minute film, kids and adults will love the lemurs; both might cringe a bit at the thought of the entire species being wiped out due mainly to human greed and lack of foresight. Hopefully, as the documentary points out, at least some of them can be saved. Island of Lemurs opens in iMAX theatres this Friday, April 4. Go see it, and take the kids.