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The Elephant Queen

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United Kingdom, Kenya · 2019
Rated PG · 1h 36m
Director Victoria Stone, Mark Deeble
Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor
Genre Documentary, Family

This beautiful, moving nature documentary tells the story of Athena, an elephant matriarch. When a drought strikes, Athena must lead her herd to safety, traveling through the Kenyan savanna. This film provides a stunning glimpse at the lives and personalities of the elephants and the wildlife they encounter.

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What are critics saying?

75 by Brian Tallerico

A world in which the stunning nature docs of shows like “Planet Earth” and “Our Planet” exists is going to make projects like The Elephant Queen harder to stand out in comparison, but I highly recommend at least watching the final half-hour in theaters or on Apple TV. It’s some of the most powerful nature footage in years.


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

For all of the film’s strange omissions, and its struggles to thread the needle between appealing to children and trying to show them how wild our world really is, this passionate and beautifully shot film is worth celebrating for how clearly it conveys the raw truth of that idea.


The Hollywood Reporter by Frank Scheck

Shot over four years in Kenya, the film boasts an undeniable authenticity, thanks to its filmmakers' quarter-century of experience making wildlife films in Africa. And while elephants are naturally camera-friendly subjects, their behavior here is captured with a particularly impressive immediacy.


The New York Times by Ken Jaworowski

Young viewers could certainly handle a few more harsh facts. Yet The Elephant Queen sets out, first and foremost, to use a narrative to build compassion. And here, a good story is as effective as a shout.


Los Angeles Times by Kimber Myers

The documentary doesn’t hesitate to reveal the dangerous reality facing elephants and the other animals, offering a frank look at their existence in a film that’s as entertaining as it is moving.


Polygon by Petrana Radulovic

The Lion King shed its lush animation for a more photorealistic world, which prompted many (us included) to wonder if the hyper-realistic CGi caused some of the heart to be lost from the story. The Elephant Queen, on the other hand, works with just animals and narration to create an evocative tale.


Variety by Scott Tobias

There’s no denying the emotional pull of Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble’s storytelling or the vivid rapture of the images, but “The Elephant Queen” adheres too closely to the parameters of family-friendly nature docs, and the formula doesn’t always serve it well.


TheWrap by Simon Abrams

The Elephant Queen may not suit every adult viewers’ taste, but it is exceptionally sensitive and consistently thoughtful, especially when it’s concerned with the sorts of facts of life of which younger kids are probably already vaguely aware.

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