Cinema Review – JDIFF 2010: Broken Tail

Broken Tail is a documentary about a tiger of the same name. Broken Tail was killed by a train after he left Ranthambore, the national park in which he was born, and walked for nearly 200 kilometres. Broken Tail was just 3 years old at the time.

The film combines camera man Colin Stafford Johnson’s love and affection for Broken Tail with a commentary on how close tigers are to extinction. Stafford Johnson filmed Broken Tail from when he was a cub, up until he disappeared. Stafford Johnson then set out to track Broken Tail’s movements after he left Ranthambore and find out what happened to him.

The cinematography of the film is beautiful. Of course the film was shot in India and Stafford Johnson crosses some beautiful countryside in his quest to discover the truth about Broken Tail. What is truly moving, however, is how attached this camera man got to his subject and his need to pay homage to the tiger’s memory by trying to improve conditions for the some 1400 tigers left in the wild.

The film is as touching as it is galling, and one leaves the cinema wondering how to help these creatures that seem to be unaware that they need help. A truly moving film and one that is definitely worth a look.

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