The Elephant Whisperers [subtitled]

The second 2023 Oscar-nominated short film from the Documentary category that I watched was The Elephant Whisperers.

Set in India, it is the story of Bomman and Bellie, a middle-aged couple who work as some sort of wildlife rehabilitators. Their specialty is taking care of elephants. The film focuses on their care for baby elephant Raghu, and later, overlappingly, their care for baby elephant Ammu.

This is a really good one. For starters, the nature scenes, the wildlife scenes, are stunning, especially on a big screen. I didn’t necessarily have a pre-existing high level of interest in elephants specifically, but I was thoroughly drawn into watching them and their natural habitat.

But the human stories are, if anything, even more interesting, learning about Bomman and Bellie, how they came to work with elephants, the loving bonds they experience with each other and with these animals, and certainly how heartbreaking it is for them when they are informed that after several years of their caring for Raghu, other people will now be taking responsibility for him—it’s very much like a loss of a family member. You also see how comfortable other members of the community, including children, are with elephants, who come across as more intelligent, gentle, and playful than you might expect.

A fine nature documentary in general.


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