I’m sure a lot of you have watched or at least have heard of this YouTube classic about Christian The Lion. Yes, many have wept, and yes, many have scowled, but everyone has to agree that it’s quite a captivating yarn. Being an animal lover, obviously I was choking back lumps in my throat when I watched this, at the same time cringing at how easily I took the bait, “hook, line and sinker” (or is that “line, sink and hooker?”). A parade of former pets who have gone on to the great kennel in the sky passed before my very eyes. It brought back memories of animal films, that as a child, reduced me to a blubbering idiot while watching the lead animals die or watch the humans who love them shoo them away for their own good – (“Old Yeller”, The Yearling”, “Napoleon and Samantha”, “Born Free”, among others).
Of course the YouTube clip has its many flaws. It’s obviously shmaltzy in the cheesiest way possible; you know that its main objective is to make you cry. Second, the choice of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” as its main theme is artistically questionable, since that song is about as subtle as Dolly Parton’s make-up. But for me, I’m a sucker for sentiment. As long as the bathos doesn’t make me burst into fits of laughter, for sure it’ll make me cry.
So imagine my delight when I caught a news bit in news.yahoo.com about plans to make a full film about Christian The Lion and his two humans. I just hope they get an able writer who can tame the mawkishness inherent in the tale, a director who would dim the hysterics of the emotions, and a cast who would give the story the necessary balance between gravity and levity. If it’s high-budgeted, I could almost imagine Tom Hanks and Will Smith in the lead roles (they can tweak the facts a bit since both men are Caucasian). Or maybe Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp if they decide to skew it toward the younger set (plus, it’s a better fit physically since one guy is blond and the other dark-haired).
But whatever the outcome, the point is, they’re talking about it. Here’s the full news item from news.yahoo.com:
“Millions have seen the YouTube video of “Christian the Lion” reuniting in Africa with the two men who bought him from a high-end London department store in 1969.
Sony Pictures aims to bring the story of Christian and the two men, John Rendall and Anthony “Ace” Bourke, to the big screen.
The studio is in the process of securing the life-story rights of Rendall and Bourke and their 1972 book, “A Lion Called Christian.”
One of the most-viewed YouTube videos of the reunion features Whitney Houston belting out “I Will Always Love You” in the background to footage from a 1971 documentary about the two men visiting Christian a year after they sent him to Africa to be reintroduced into the wild.
The men are unsure whether Christian will recognize them, and the lion approaches them slowly at first. Christian then rushes toward them and affectionately “hugs” them — provoking tears from nearly everyone who views the video.”
And here’s the culprit: