David Balding
Owen Gleiberman
June 21, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

One Lucky Elephant

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
84 minutes
Limited Release Date
06/08/11
director
Lisa Leeman
distributor
Crossover Productions, Sandbar Pictures
author
Cristina Colissimo
genre
Documentary

We gave it an A-

This finely woven documentary spans nine years in the complicated relationship between a circus elephant named Flora and her owner, ringmaster, and trusted companion, David Balding. One Lucky Elephant exerts a powerful poignance (at times it’s like a video-shot Dumbo), but its most memorable achievement is the way it burrows into the delicate layers of elephant psychology. Once Balding places the retired Flora in an idyllic elephant sanctuary, she begins to lash out in episodes of violence. What begins as a simple man-and-his-pachyderm love story ends up encompassing unexpected levels of trauma and sacrifice. A?

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