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Film / The Last Lions

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The Last Lions is a feature-length Nature Documentary produced by acclaimed wildlife filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert for National Geographic Films, and released in 2011.

In Botswana's Okavango Delta, a lioness named Ma di Tau lives with her mate and their three cubs. One night, a rival pride arrives and takes over the territory, forcing Ma di Tau to flee with her young. Farther north, humans are encroaching on the savanna, so she ultimately sets down roots on the island of Duba. Hounded at every step by crocodiles, hyenas, angry buffalo, and a particularly aggressive lioness from the rival pride, Ma di Tau struggles to keep the cubs safe.

Throughout the film, we are reminded that lions in the wild are nearing the brink of extinction.

The film is narrated by Jeremy Irons, who had previously narrated several other films by the Jouberts, including Eye of the Leopard and Ultimate Enemies.

The Last Lions provides examples of:

  • Awesome Music: Alex Wurman's score for the film is simply breathtaking.
    • Of particular note is the "Last Lions Theme," with stirring percussion and the haunting vocals of singer Nonhlanhla Mdluli.
  • Eye Scream: During the territorial battle at the start of the film, Ma di Tau manages to blind the rival pride's matriarch in her right eye. Thenceforward, the lioness is known as Silver Eye.
  • Meaningful Name: Ma di Tau translates to "mother of lions" in Setswana.
  • Narrative-Driven Nature Documentary: The film follows Ma di Tau as she struggles to raise her cubs on her own, and ultimately joins forces with the lionesses from the conquering pride to take down a buffalo, thus forming a new pride.
  • Stock Footage: The footage of the fight between the two prides at the opening, and much of the buffalo hunting scenes, were originally filmed as part of Relentless Enemies (2006).
  • Struggling Single Mother: After running away from home, Ma di Tau struggles to keep her cubs safe. In the end, only one survives — one of the triplets is snatched by a crocodile, and another gets its back broken during an attack by the buffalo.