1966 Certificate: pg


Wildlife classic starring Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as real life game wardens Joy and George Adamson who found themselves raising three lion cubs in Kenya when their mother is killed. When two of the cubs are despatched to Rotterdam Zoo, only little Elsa is left, forcing a bond with her unlikely foster parents. However, they have to face the fact that - one day - she must return to the wild. John Barry picked up two Oscars - one for the score and one for the song Born Free belted out by Matt Munro.


  • James Hill


  • Virginia McKenna

  • Bill Travers


If you thought that animal weepies had had their day when Lassie retired, then pad along and have a good cry at this one, magnificently transferred to the screen from Joy Adamson's best-selling story of Elsa the lioness.

Big bonuses, apart from the lions themselves, are the clear, sunny Technicolor photography, John Barry's marvellous wide-open spaces music, and the near-miraculous way that stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers romp as to the manner born with the three lionesses who play Elsa at various stages of her growth - as the Adamsons rear Elsa from a cub after her mother has been killed. T

he film's a little slow in its later stages, but these do come directly after some particularly wonderful scenes of the two principals playing 'piggy in the middle' with Elsa in the sea.

Otherwise, when the music rises to a crescendo, and Elsa strikes again at the heart by being happy, or playful, or naughty, or beaten in a fight, you'll be quite lost.

Only hardened animal-haters will avoid blubbering almost all the way through. And there aren't many of those.