Elephant Boy (1937)

ELEPHANT BOY (1937)
Article #901 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-2-2003
Posting Date: 1-30-2004
Directed by Zoltan Korda and Robert Flaherty
Featuring Sabu, W. E. Holloway, Walter Hudd

A boy from India has dreams of being a great hunter, and joins his father and his elephant on a safari.

This is the movie that introduced Sabu to the world, and though he has great screen presence and decent acting ability, he still hadn’t quite mastered the English language yet, and his accent was so thick that I had trouble understanding him at times. This made it a little difficult to follow the plot at first, but when you get down to it, the plot is pretty basic; it’s your boy-with-a-dream story crossed with a boy-and-his-dog story, except that in this case the dog is fifteen feet tall, has two great big white tusks and a trunk. The plot is also fairly slow in coming; the movie is nearly half over before things really start happening in this regard. On the other hand, the plot isn’t really important; the spectacle is what matters, and we get an abundance of great elephant footage, at least partially due to the participation of famed documentarian Robert Flaherty. The fantastic aspects of the movie are a little harder to pin down, but they seem to revolve around Sabu’s almost mystical rapport with the elephants. Certainly, a key sequence in the second half of the movie when a large herd of elephants congregates and engages in a dance moves the movie into fantastic territory, even if the possibility exists that the event is just a dream. Nonetheless, this sequence is the best part of the movie, and makes the somewhat slow beginning more palatable.

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