JWR Articles: Film/DVD - The Elephant Whisperers | Asia's Elephant Whisperer: The Last Mahout (Directors: Kartiki Gonsalves, David Adams) - March 20, 2023 id="543337086">

The Elephant Whisperers | Asia's Elephant Whisperer: The Last Mahout

4.5 4.5

Two titles that are nearly the same, lead to the film wanted and the one that paved the way.

The Elephant Whisperers
41 minutes
Kartiki Gonsalves
Four and one half stars

Love by adoption

14 years after the film below, the whisperers take up shop in southern India where Bellie and Bomman adopt two orphans—Raghu and Ammu—to fill the various emotional holes in their non-animal lives.

Here, the star of the show is the spectacular cinematography (Gonsalves along with Anand Bansai, Kris Makhila and Karan Thapliyal). The many cutaways to other cohabitants of the jungle (notably the monkeys), delight the eye and add further context.

Do take a look and be reminded once again why, collectively, we need to do so much more to protect animals than push them to oblivion. JWR

Asia's Elephant Whisperer: The Last Mahout
98 minutes
David Adams
Four stars

Beauty of the beasts

Having been to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand near Chiang Mai a few years ago (but declining a “ride” and post-trip river bath), I was delighted to relive that experience in Adams’ lovingly crafted tale of the planet’s most noble beasts who’ve come ever so close to extinction due to the value of their gleaming tusks and forests being decimated in favour of crops.

The hero of this portrait is Laithongrien Meepan whose Ayutthaya Elephant Palace, Royal Elephant Kraal Village and the Phra Kochabaan Foundation have become a safe haven for baby, injured or abandoned elephants since 1996.

Believing that Buddha was an elephant before he became a man, Meepan has more than one reason to protect and care for these magnificent beasts—even out of the womb. In some cases, he offers rehab for rogues!

He knows very well that elephants were the equivalent of modern-day tanks in Ukraine, artfully and deadly employed by Alexander in many of his conquests (inspiring Oliver Stone to search out the super trainer to employ these thundering “beasts” in the battle scenes of Alexander (2004)).

Also that year, it was Meepan’s herd to the rescue, moving fallen trees and finding victims of the devastating December 26 tsunami.

These magnificent creatures ought to be celebrated more for their contributions to mankind rather than denigrated to circus acts. JWR

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