The movie operates on two basic levels. One is philosophical, as the camera watches two men who are themselves looking through viewfinders experience the sensations of a place where humans rarely disrupt the natural order.
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This elegant, unusual documentary shifts the role of the game-spotter from that of non-violent hunter — in pursuit of one prized target — to passive but duly wide-eyed observer, accepting but also appreciating the limits of our access.
Long stretches of the film are simply mesmerizing, but both Sylvain Tesson’s written compositions and the conversation between him and Vincent Munier often lapse into clichés about the distractions and decadence of modern society.
Gorgeous, humbling, looking out-, up- and inward, the documentary The Velvet Queen is the rare nature film about not only beauty and beasts but also the very human urge to make sense of our place in it all.