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Living Free

Living Free(1972)

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teaser Living Free (1972)

Living Free, the 1972 sequel to the highly popular family adventure film Born Free (1966), picks up where the first one left off. After Elsa the lioness was released into the African wild at the end of Born Free by her caretakers George and Joy Adamson, word now comes that Elsa is dying. The Adamsons (Nigel Davenport and Susan Hampshire), who remain committed to conservation, rush to find Elsa and her three cubs. When they discover that Elsa's cubs have been preying on domestic animals for food, it is up to the Adamsons to relocate them to the Serengeti National Park where they can live in safety and freedom. Shot on location in East Africa, Living Free features beautiful natural scenery and captures vivid footage of wildlife in action.

Born Free, had been such a success for Columbia Pictures that it was a no-brainer for the studio to do a sequel. Born Free had been based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Joy Adamson, which told the true story of how she and her conservationist husband George raised Elsa the lioness and taught her to hunt and fend for herself in the wild. Joy Adamson followed up her initial book with two more installments that updated enamored readers with the continuing story of Elsa and her cubs: Living Free in 1961 and Forever Free: Elsa's Pride in 1962. The screenplay for Living Free, written by Millard Kaufman (Bad Day at Black Rock [1955], Raintree County [1957]), took its storyline from a combination of the last two books.

In Living Free, actors Nigel Davenport and Susan Hampshire took over playing the Adamsons - roles originated in Born Free by real life married couple Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. Living Free covers their absence by using the first few minutes to recap the action of the first film with extensive plot re-enactments by the new actors. Only two actors in small roles, Geoffrey Keen as Kendall and Peter Lukoye as Nuru, reprised their roles from the first film.

Attempting to capitalize on Born Free's Oscar®-winning theme song, Living Free also had an original song written by Sol Kaplan and Freddy Douglass called "Living Free." It was recorded by singer Julie Budd and played prominently over the opening titles.

Although Living Free didn't reach the same level of success of its predecessor, it was still received warmly by most critics and did strong business as a family film at the box office. "For some reason, the British sponsors of the popular Born Free have waited six years to dispatch a sequel," said the New York Times. "But all that really matters is that the sequel, Living Free, is excellent screen fare for children." Variety said, "The same loving care that characterized Born evident in the sequel. Sensitive screenplay...often carries a dramatic pitch. Possibly the most remarkable facet of picture is the animal photography of the cubs and other beasts that they encounter."

Producer: Paul Radin
Director: Jack Couffer
Screenplay: Millard Kaufman (screenplay); Joy Adamson (book)
Cinematography: Wolfgang Suschitzky
Art Direction: John Stoll
Music: Sol Kaplan
Film Editing: Don Deacon
Cast: Nigel Davenport (George Adamson), Susan Hampshire (Joy Adamson), Geoffrey Keen (Kendall), Peter Lukoye (Nuru), Shane De Louvre (Makedde), Robert Beaumont (Billy Collins).

by Andrea Passafiume

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