Born Free (1966) - Rotten Tomatoes

Born Free1966

Born Free (1966)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Born Free is the heartwarming true story of a British couple who teach their pet lioness how to survive in the wilds of the African jungles. Joy and George Adamson (portrayed by real-life married couple Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers) involuntarily domesticate several lions while living in Kenya. They keep one, named Elsa, until she is fully grown, and rather than turn her over to a zoo, they decide to train her to live like a wild animal so that they can release her into her natural habitat. Geoffrey Keen is a sympathetic government official who convinces the Adamsons that they should set Elsa free to avoid being ordered to place her in captivity. The film, based on Joy Adamson's book, is poignant and emotional without ever becoming banal or overly sentimental. The title song and film score both won Academy Awards.

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Bill Travers
as George Adamson
Virginia McKenna
as Joy Adamson
Surya Patel
as Indian Doctor
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Critic Reviews for Born Free

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (2)

Gerald L. C. Copley has done a first rate adaptation of the true story of Joy Adamson, who with hubby George involuntarily domesticated several pet lions.

July 6, 2010 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Without minimizing the facts of animal life or overly sentimentalizing them, this film casts an enchantment that is just about irresistible.

May 9, 2005

...a warm, melancholy tearjerker both immediate in its emotion and timeless in its theme.

December 28, 2018 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Director James Hill tackles the material in a manner that relies more on naturalistic behavior than cheap theatrics (i.e. no scenes of Elsa covering her eyes with her paws after a human does something imbecilic).

January 9, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Beautifully shot, brilliantly scored by John Barry and sensitively staged by director James Hill, this charming adaptation of Joy Adamson's bestseller is one of the great animal films.

October 21, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The nature photography is excellent, and real-life husband and wife McKenna and Travers are very good, their genuine affection transferring to the screen.

October 21, 2015 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Born Free


Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer


I'm on an animal jag now...saw this one somewhere along the line and it holds up well as a late nite DVD. Explores nicely our relationship with wild animals--what do we owe them in return for what to bring to our lives. Anyone who has ever lived with an animal can relate.

Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

The second half was much better than the first that laid most of the groundwork. Some parts were dreary and drawn out too long, but the movie was very moving and informative.

Chihoe Ho
Chihoe Ho

Super Reviewer

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