Friday, November 11, 2016

Roar (1981)

Roar (1981)
directed by:  Noel Marshall
starring:  Noel Marshall, Jerry Marshall, Melanie Griffith, Tippi Hedren, John Marshall, Kyalo Mativo
Tagline:  No Animals Were Harmed In the Production of this Film.  70 Cast and Crew Members Were

     This was just an amazing film.  Upon doing further research there was many more than 70 people injured as the tagline states but when you have 110 big cats of various kinds, mostly lions that will tend to happen.  The film is kind of half movie, half real life for Noel Marshall and his family at the time.  The man really did live in the house with all these lions. jaguars, cheetahs, tigers, leopards, and mountain lions.  He was mauled so many times in the 11 years of this film production he developed gangrene.  There was a fire and a flood during production which both set the film back not to mention added to the danger of working on such a set.  Then a major epidemic of feline disease came about once again setting production back.  Many crew members left or quit, turnover was high because people were being afraid and when you see this movie you will understand why.  A movie like this would never be allowed to be done nowadays.  Is this a good thing?  Well I think it probably is but then again this film was beautiful and a must see for any lover of big cats.  The whole reason for this film was to help people see that these animals are not just ferocious mindless beasts.  I think after you see the movie you might agree.  Knowing all these numbers and facts regarding the film might make you think otherwise but really, watch it and then make your judgement. 

     The story followes Noel fighting for the rights of his cats in Africa. He and his African companion Mativo have left his estate to do just then when Noel's family decides to visit.  To make matters worse Noel and Mativo have two big Siberian tigers with them.  That combined with car troubles and a couple of nasty poachers keep Noel away for a little longer than he imagined while his family arrives at the lion overrun plantation.  A lot of comedy is thrown in as his wife and children do there best to keep away from the cats, some of it is hokey, but some of it is just down right funny for any cat lover.  Between hiding in barrels and attempting to escape by motorcycle his family tries everything but the cats just sort of hold them hostage. 
    Definitely a few terrifying scenes for sure.  Most especially one lion in particular chasing them literally through the walls of the house.  I personally do not understand how no one was killed, accidentally or otherwise.  Melanie had her face mauled, the dp has his scalp pulled part way off resulting in hundreds of stiches, Tippi's leg was broken after being thrown off an elephants back, there is just no arguing that this film was the most dangerous movie ever made.  There is even a few mauling scenes in the movie itself including a couple faked but I do not want to spoil the movie for anyone because it is a movie regardless of it's real life aspect. 
  Personally I think there is a better way to show the majesty of these animals but Tippi and Noel were animal activists at the time and they made this 11 year film production because they wanted to help save the big cats of Africa.  I was very dumbfounded that I had never heard of this before now.  But again after doing some quick online research the movie never made it to theatres and was not picked up for distribution until 2015.  Not sure where that leaves an audience for the film before that but the distributors at the time were unwilling to back the film once it was finally completed.  Noel and his family put a lot of their own funding on the line for this also making it the most dangerous indie film of all time in a sense. 
     It says these animals are untrained and while I believe that I also believe these animals were used to being around people.  Especially the two big tigers Noel has with him during his trek to find his family.  And being that they were considered, "untrained" Noel shared his directing and acting credits with some of the main lions.  Kind of cool in my opinion. 
     I loved this movie start to finish.  It was something never done before and has never been done since.  Not to this magnitude.  Just look at some of these screen shots.  I hate the phrase, "Nuff said!"  But there they are.

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