Born in China (2016)

Nature documentaries have always been my favourites, and pandas are some of the cutest animals on our planet so (and the most relatable too as all they want is to be left alone to eat and relax), as soon as I saw Born in China's poster, I watched the documentary. 

Set into the wilds of China, Born in China follows a year in the lives of four animal families --snow leopard, snub-nosed monkey, giant panda, and chiru (Tibetan antelope). 

Specifically, the documentary follows a snow leopard, Dawa, as she struggles to provide for her two cubs and protect them from predators; a young monkey, Tao Tao, who joins a group of outcasts as his baby sister steals all the attention and love of his family; a giant panda, Ya Ya, who lives in peace with her growing baby, Mei Mei; and a herd of chiru as they migrate to give birth to their cubs.

Now, for someone who loves nature and animals as I do, watching these wild animals in their natural habitats is magical and fascinating as it is interesting --except for the chiru whose storyline doesn't have a main character like the others and feels out of place because of that. 

Unfortunately, Born in China is not a BBC documentary but a Disneynature co-production and that prevented it from being a great documentary. The first problem is the narration. While it may appeal to a (very) young audience, the anthropomorphic storytelling isn't very objective nor highly informative and, after a while, the projection of human emotions and characteristics onto the animals gets a little annoying. I have, however, no complain about John Krasinski's narration as he nails the playful tone of the documentary and makes it fun (I'm sure kids will love him). The problem is that the filmmakers shouldn't have used this light tone given the material. 

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Especially considering that a big part of Born in China is focused on the snow leopard, one of nature's best hunters --as well as some of the greatest masters of disguise (damn, I did learn something from this film, after all). The hunting footage is nowhere to be found which is a real bummer considering the snow leopard at the center of the story spends half of her time defending her territory and the other half hunting.

The editing also leaves something to be desired. Don't get me wrong, the film is quite beautifully edited, the problem is that it feels staged. The footage just seems to be put together in a way that it would fit the narrative and would make all more interesting and fun. There's no way the baby panda and the red panda were looking at each other like that. 

All of that being said, Born in China is still a quite enjoyable documentary, thanks to Krasinski's narration, that showcases the importance of family and how it outweighs everything else. Also, it has a stunning, breathtaking photography. 


  1. I do love animal shows but I get depressed when they show an animal and then say...they will all die because of us humans. I know it is true that we are the worst but I need hope which scientists have a hard time to do. Since this is Disney, they will make it pseudocute and manipulate the audience. This does sound like a good movie but they should show the animals hunting-that is what they do. They don't make dresses for cinderella

    1. Exactly! And it doesn't feel like a real documentary because of that.