The Leopard Son

Director:Hugo Van Lawick
Writer:Michael Olmert
Directors of Photography:Hugo Van Lawick and Matthew Aeberhard
Editors:Mark Fletcher and Gerrit Netten
Music:Stewart Copeland
Producers:Hugo Van Lawick and Tim Cowling
Discovery Channel Pictures; G; 87 minutes
Narrator:John Gielgud

A real-life Lion King that tells a similar story but has none of the endearing musical numbers or cutesy characters. The Leopard Son doesn't need them; it's engaging on its own. The beautifully shot documentary, the first theatrical release produced by the Discovery Channel, follows a leopard cub as he undergoes the rites of passage in the Serengeti National Park. For the first year of his life, we see the cub frolicking as his mother provides him with food and protection. When his mother leaves him, the cub enjoys his freedom but quickly learns the rules of the jungle. Cinematographers Aeberhard and Lawick also offer glimpses of cheetahs, eagles, hyenas, giraffes and elephants roaming, foraging and, in some cases, dying.

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