One Lucky Elephant
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Where does an elephant go after a life in the circus? Sixteen years have passed since circus producer David Balding adopted Flora, the orphaned baby African elephant. As Flora approaches adulthood, he realizes that she is not happy performing. Ultimately, David must face the difficult truth that the circus is no place for Flora; she needs to be with other elephants. The road to Flora's retirement, however, is a difficult and emotional journey which tests their bond in unexpected ways. Ten years in the making, ONE LUCKY ELEPHANT eschews easy sentimentality and doesn't shy away from… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Simple enough to delight a child and complex enough to baffle a philosopher."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Both illuminates the bond that can form between humans and animals and also reminds us that we can never quite leap over the gulf of comprehension that lies between us and other species."
‑ Andrew O'Hehir,
"An extraordinary movie about inter-species relationships, and the beauty, enrichment and, ultimately, constraints of those bonds."
‑ Brent Simon, Shared Darkness
"Illustrating the dangers of anthropomorphizing wild animals, it shows the perils of adopting, separating and letting go - for both parent and pet."
‑ Susan Granger, SSG Syndicate
"reveals how the psyche consequentially rationalizes and copes with the dissolution of domesticated hierarchy"
‑ Christopher Null,
"How affected are these animals by the physical pain of being trained or by childhood trauma? Can they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder? What can trigger that if they can? All these questions are raised and, quite appropriately, left open."
‑ Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"While its story is inherently bittersweet, the movie has many charming moments. After all, it's about one smart elephant."
‑ Mark Jenkins, NPR
"A heartwarming and thought-provoking documentary, spanning almost a full decade, that tacitly asks tough questions about whether wild animals can ever be expected to be truly content in captivity."
‑ Brent Simon,
"Flora is a gorgeous creature, truly gorgeous, and it is something to behold the affectionate relationship between the elephant and her keeper."
‑ Marcy Dermansky,
"An often captivating documentary that will tug at your heartstrings, especially if you're an animal lover"
‑ Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
"What begins as a simple man-and-his-pachyderm love story ends up encompassing unexpected levels of trauma and sacrifice."
‑ Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"One Lucky Elephant is a poignant documentary whose simple premise masks a substantial emotional wallop..."
‑ Alison Willmore, AV Club
"You might be left to wonder just how "lucky" Flora the African elephant is, while watching Lisa Leeman's documentary about the fate of said orphaned pachyderm."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"This superbly informative, affecting documentary about an undying bond between man and beast may well be the most moving film of 2011."
‑ David Noh, Film Journal International
"A documentary about Flora a retired circus elephant that turns into a complex and compelling meditation on interspecies relationships; one of the Best Films of 2011."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
More reviews for One Lucky Elephant on Rotten Tomatoes

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