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Culture Documentary

Born in China

(Film Frame - © Disney)

Documentary

Born in China

Disney’s new nature documentary doesn’t acknowledge that God spoke into existence the lush diversity of life on Earth. No surprise there. But the film’s second irony is revealed in its title: Born in China.

The 80-minute documentary tracks five animal groups in different regions of China from one spring through the following spring. Dawa the snow leopard hunts to feed her two kittens, and Tao Tao the juvenile snub-nosed monkey romps with his new sister. Oodles of red-crowned crane and antelopelike chiru babies run amok. Only Ya Ya the giant panda, who has a single cub, didn’t get the memo that the Chinese government recently upped its one-child policy to two.

Off camera, John Krasinski narrates the G-rated film, ascribing human motives and emotions to the animals’ play and peril. But Krasinski’s “animal behavior insights” seem blind to the Creator’s fingerprints in nature.

At 14,000 feet elevation, Dawa navigates boulders and nearly vertical cliff faces. “Every part of her body is designed for this unique terrain,” Krasinski says without investigating the identity of the Designer.

Viewers learn Ya Ya eats almost nothing but bamboo—40 pounds a day. I laughed in awe of the One who invented chemical reactions to convert chewed-up wood into distinctive black and white fur markings and roly-poly cuteness. Krasinski claims it’s all “cycles,” “rhythms,” and “evolutionary urges.” No, it’s a divine comedy.

Wandering rivers scar a flatland, and Ya Ya’s milk drips from her baby’s lips: The film’s panoramas and close-ups reveal God’s majestic workmanship, but also the skill and patience of director Lu Chuan and his production team. Still, one wonders what moviegoers in China felt when the documentary was released there last year: Pride? Sadness?

Optimism fills Krasinski: “The joy a mother receives from raising a cub from birth is worth a thousand farewells.”

The tragedy: Thanks to the country’s abortion policies, 23 million babies not born in China each year don’t get the chance to bring such joy.