Deers at Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand, India

Movies that turned Me into an Animal Lover

Born in the city, my knowledge of animals was only limited to zoo trips arranged by the school. For over four decades, I didn’t pay attention to other life forms such as flora and fauna. I don’t know how the focus changed from ‘human only’ to wildlife and Nature, but in the last decade I realised the planet needs all life forms to be the place it is.  

While humans might be on top of the food chain, other life forms make up the balanced ecosystem of our planet. Without these life forms, Earth would be a different planet, and not-so-beautiful or colourful. Animals have inspired books, scientific documentaries, animated movies and some real-life incidents that have become dreamy inspiration. I know movies are staged and take creative liberties, but they also originate from some research. They involve trainers, who highlight the behaviours of animals and most of them spread the message of peaceful co-existence. I am listing below the movies that showed me the emotional side of animals:

The Elephant Whisperers

The Elephant Whisperers

All of us know this movie, most of us have watched it by now. It made history by winning the Best Documentary Short film at the 95th Academy Awards, the first Indian documentary to be given this award. I watched it on Netflix when it was nominated for the Oscars. It explores the bond between orphaned elephants and their caretakers in a very realistic and sensitive manner.

The documentary is shot in Theppakadu Elephant Camp inside the Mudumulai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu. The story is based on a tribal couple, Bomman and Bellie, who take care of an injured baby elephant Raghu. The couple belong to the Kattunayakan community, who are generational forest protectors.

Tribal couple, Bomman and Bellie, who take care of an injured baby elephant Raghu, hold the Oscar
Tribal couple, Bomman and Bellie,, hold the Oscar

Raghu gets separated from his herd and is rescued by the forest department. The couple love the little elephant like their own child. Later, Ammu, a female elephant calf, is added to the family. The four forge a special bond.

The movie moves amid the green jungle zone with little elephants having their shelters near the caretakers’ cottage. There are many moving scenes. As Raghu reaches adolescence, a heartbreak awaits the couple. The forest department places him with another caretaker.  The family misses Raghu. It is a beautiful scene when Raghu recognises Bomman at a waterhole and Ammu wipes Bellie’s tears when she misses Raghu.

The movie makes us understand that elephants reciprocate love and affection. They want to be with people who love them and are loyal.

We do know where the title comes from—the book The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence. The South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony took in a rogue elephant herd and gave them a new life. The elephants stood for a week outside his home at his death. We would have all liked to see this herd.

The Horse Whisperer

The Horse Whisperer

This 1998 movie was instrumental in coining the slang ‘animal whisperer’, which means people who bond with animals. It is also the first movie in which director Robert Redford played the lead role. This American Western drama film is streaming on Disney+Hotstar. It is based on the novel The Horse Whisperer (1995) by Nicholas Evans.

Evans travelled across the West and modelled the character of the horse whisperer on real trainers: Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt and their younger disciple Buck Brannama.  “Buck is the Zen master of the horse world. His skill, understanding and his gentle, loving heart have parted the clouds for countless troubled creatures,” says Evans.

The majestic landscape and the noble ideals along with healing, make the movie an amazing watch. One winter morning, a New York-based teenager Grace MacLean and her best friend Judith go out riding on their horses Pilgrim and Gulliver respectively. Climbing up an icy slope, Gulliver slips and hits Pilgrim. Both horses fall, dragging the girls onto a road who are hit by a tractor-trailer. Judith and Gulliver are killed, while Grace and Pilgrim are both injured.

Grace is left with a partially amputated right leg and Pilgrim is traumatized and uncontrollable. His caretakers suggested that it would be best to put him down. However, Grace’s mother Annie, a workaholic magazine editor, senses that this is not the way forward. Grace’s recovery is linked with Pilgrim’s. And she finds Montana-based ‘Horse Whisperer’ to heal the horse. It is a long drive from New York, but Annie hires a trailer to take the horse to the trainer who refuses to come to the city.

Redford heals Pilgrim, Grace, and Annie falls in love with him. It is a sunset end with Annie confessing her love but going back to join her husband and daughter and the healed horse.  

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

This movie is based on a true story. The American version (2009), starring Richard Gere, running on Netflix is a remake of Kaneto Shindo’s Japanese film Hachikō Monogatari (1987). An Akita dog named Hachikō lived in Japan between 1923-1935, who waited for over nine years for his dead master on the railway station. Hachi means eight in Japanese.

By the end of this movie, I was in tears, as the dog, loved by the entire town, meets his dead master in heaven. In honor of Hachiko’s loyalty, a bronze statue has been installed in front of the Shibuya train station, Ōdate, Japan.

Dog Gone

Dog Gone

Dog Gone’ released in January 2023 on Netflix. It is based on a true story, which is also a book titled Dog Gone: A Lost Pet’s Extraordinary Journey and the Family Who Brought Him Home by Pauls Toutonghi.

Starring Pierce Brosnan, the movie highlights the relationship between man and canine, and father and son. It is a heart-warming tale of a boy who loves his canine and a father who worries about his son’s future and wants him to settle into a good career. Touching upon bad relationships and unconditional love, the movie touches upon emotional healing. 

A socially awkward college kid, Fielding is rejected by a girl. To overcome this, he adopts a yellow lab puppy from the local pound. The two become inseparable and after college Fielding comes back home.  Gonker is diagnosed with Addison’s disease and needs a life-saving injection on a monthly basis.

One day, Fieldingand his best friend go hiking in the forest and Gonker chases a fox.Then, he is untraceable. Fielding’s parents begin the search by reaching out to the police, local newspapers, animal shelters, hospitals, and sending flyers. The story is published in a local newspaper and then reaches the national papers. The whole countryside is looking for the dog. It has a happy end.

Holiday in the Wild


This romantic movie (2019), filmed in a sanctuary in Zambia, is streaming on Netflix. When Kate Conrad’s son Luke leaves for college, she books a surprise second honeymoon package to Zambia. However, the former veterinarian is in for a shock, as her husband Drew is no longer in love with her and wishes to end their marriage.

After much thought, a lonely Kate goes on the trip. On her first night in the resort, she has a squirmish with Derek. The next day, she is to go to another resort on a private charter plane; Derek is the pilot. During the flight, he suddenly lands the plane in the wild, as they discover a traumatized baby elephant whose mother has been killed by poachers. Kate accompanies the rescuers and decides to stay on at the sanctuary, which is run by Derek’s friend Jonathan. She names the baby ‘Manu’.

Kate and Derek are attracted to each other and she extends her stay, celebrating Christmas season at the sanctuary. In the meanwhile, Drew sends her divorce papers and Luke also comes to visit her. As in all movies, there is another girl, Leslie, in the picture. She is also the funder for the sanctuary and pulls out when Derek breaks off with her.

Kate eventually returns to New York and takes on the job of a vet. She also does a fundraising campaign for the sanctuary and later buys a one-way ticket to Zambia to be with Derek. This movie, too, has a happy end with Manu being released back into the wild. 

The elephant scenes were filmed at a sanctuary in South Africa, and at Game Rangers International Elephant Orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia.  This movie again brings out the physical and emotional traumas of elephants and the relationships they form with their rescuers. 

There are many more movies. Among them is the celebrated Born Free, based on real-life incident of Elsa the lioness being released in the wild by her saviours. I have yet to watch this. The animated ones such as Jungle Book, The Lion King, Ice Age, Happy Feet are also my favourites.

I enjoy watching these fictional sound and motion stories as they sensitise us to other life forms, we share the planet with. They harmonise us with Nature and help us overcome the desire to remain overly materialistic. They are not preachy moral lessons on environment, but just principles of balance and universal love.

What are your views? Do share with us your views and recommendations. We would love it if you like, subscribe and share with your friends as well.

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Bohemian Bibliophile.

This post is part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023 challenge.

Letter A, Blogchatter


any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (such as protozoans) that typically differ from plants in having cells without cellulose walls, in lacking chlorophyll and the capacity for photosynthesis, in requiring more complex food materials (such as proteins), in being organized to a greater degree of complexity, and in having the capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor responses to stimulation


59 thoughts on “Movies that turned Me into an Animal Lover

  1. Haichi is heartbreaking. Cannot bring myself to watch it again. I think it was homeward bound that gave me my first look for animals.

    Liked by 1 person

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