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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Living Free (1972)

Living Free (1972)

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Released 29-Mar-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Running Free, Stuart Little 1 And 2, Born Free
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 88:06
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Version Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jack Couffer

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Nigel Davenport
Susan Hampshire
Geoffrey Keen
Peter Lukoye
Edward Judd
Case ?
RPI Box Music Sol Kaplan

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Living Free is the sequel to the 1966 film Born Free, which really helped to kick off the genre of wildlife based big-screen movies. Like its predecessor, this story is based on a book by Joy Adamson, this time focussing on Joy, George and on the 'next generation' of lions, i.e. the cubs that were born to Elsa at the end of Born Free. The story is basically the struggle that the Adamsons went through to rehabilitate the recently orphaned cubs from the wild to a nature reserve (the Serengeti).

    Although the characters are the same in both films, the roles of the leads are played by different actors this time round. Joy Adamson is played by Susan Hampshire (Monte Carlo or Bust), and her onscreen husband, George, is played by Nigel Davenport (Zulu Dawn, The Last Valley). Geoffrey Keen reprises his role of Kendall and actually seems to have gained some extra screen time.

    Much of the film crew had also changed, including director, Jack Couffer (Ring of Bright Water) , whose biography reveals that he was a noted wildlife photographer.

    Living Free seems to contain even more wildlife photography than its predecessor, though some of that footage is either stock footage, or recycled from Born Free. Although the film seems to contain more action scenes that its predecessor, to me the film didn't quite hold the viewer's attention in the same way, and actually appeared to drag on a little more than its short running time would indicate. It lacked the pace and the natural humour that ran through Born Free, and sadly also lacked John Barry's wonderful musical score which really added to many scenes.

    Nevertheless, Living Free is an enjoyable film in its own right as it contains an interesting and true story, and some wonderful location footage of Africa and its wildlife. The first 15 minutes or so serve to recap much of the story from Born Free, so even if you missed that great film, you can still enjoy its sequel.

    The Adamsons continued to contribute some of the profits from their films and books towards the struggle to protect African wildlife from human poachers, a struggle which ultimately cost Joy her life at the hands of poachers in 1980.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented on this disc in its original ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness, in most scenes, is actually rather good considering the age of the source material. However there is the occasional shot, such as at 4:04, which is out-of-focus, a result probably of the original camerawork, rather than any fault of the transfer. Stock footage, as well as footage that has been filched from Born Free looks noticeably softer and more aged in comparison.

    Shadow detail, at least in the 'newly' shot sequences is quite good and allows the viewer to discern the action in some of the dark sequences.

    The transfer contained very slight traces of grain, except notably in the stock wildlife footage or excerpts from Born Free that have been spliced into the film. These sequences were quite rife with grain. There was no low level noise apparent at any stage.

    Colour was quite rich with the slightest overall tendency towards a 'redness' which resulted in flesh tones becoming a little too red. Once again the scenes of stock footage or that had been copied from the earlier film were notably faded, and lacking in contrast, and generally looked much 'older'. This contrast in the mixture of footage to some extent ruined the film's overall appearance. A particularly noticeable example of the difference is at 13:17. 

    The transfer was free from aliasing despite the many sharp, panned shots of greenery and desert sands.

    Edge enhancement was used throughout the film but was never particularly distracting.

    What I first thought was an alarming case of telecine wobble at 20:51 was actually just shimmer from the heat haze from a fire below the camera's view!

    There were the occasional positive and negative film artefacts throughout the film, but nothing particularly noticeable in terms of size or clustering.

    The subtitles were only available in English and were presented as white text on their own black background. The subtitles were accurate to the spoken word.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is one audio track on this disc and it's English Dolby Digital 2.0, although the actual recorded audio is very much mono (as per the original film).

    The dialogue is clear at all times and there is no distortion even in the very loud parts such as lion roars or gunshots. There are no issues with lip sync.

    The music is by Sol Kaplan, perhaps best known for his work on Star Trek, The Original Series. It is a reasonable effort though it pales in comparison with John Barry's magnificent score for Born Free. Sadly only some minor incidental snatches from Born Free have been used in this film. The title theme, sung by Julie Budd, obviously tries to mimic the style of its predecessor but comes across as somewhat lame and corny. I also felt that there just wasn't enough music in many scenes which made them drag a little and lose the viewer's interest.

    Being a mono soundtrack, no speakers other than the front centre were called upon to exercise their capabilities.

    The subwoofer, depending on one's bass management setup, was called on to support some sound effects as well as the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    All trailers are 16x9 enhanced but in various screen ratios.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 DVD release of Living Free  is only available as a fullscreen, pan & scan transfer. The R1 release also has fewer trailers than the R4.

    This R4 release comes on the same disc as Born Free. There is no comparison really - the R4 version wins hands down, unless for some bizarre reason one wants a full-screen version of this movie.


    Though this film is nowhere near as great, nor as memorable, as its illustrious predecessor, it's still good, clean family entertainment that harks back to the days before CGI or 'animals' with rapier-sharp wit!  In some ways the director has made this film feel more like a wildlife documentary than a 'film', which might result in the viewer's attention straying in some sequences.

    The video quality is quite acceptable, except for the inserts of older film segments. It is great to see the film presented in widescreen, and with 16x9 enhancement.

    The audio is good, especially considering the age of the original film.

    The extras are limited to a few trailers. It would have been nicer to have had a documentary on the Adamsons, or perhaps on the making of the two films.

    The fact that this film comes on the same disc as Born Free means that you can buy the disc for Born Free and consider that you're getting Living Free for nothing!

Ratings (out of 5)


© Satish Rajah (don't read my bio!)
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2801
SpeakersMain: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10

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