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Two years in the making, with 500 days of shooting 80 species in over 16 countries, this documentary about animals in love, shows that the gentle art of seduction is not limited to humans.

Review by Louise Keller:
Philip Glass's music brings it all together, this enticing window into the world of the animal kingdom engrossed in the art of seduction. But the music doesn't overwhelm this look at animals in their unique world as they practice their mating rituals: there are passages of silence that alternate with passages of intoxicating and rousing music. Animal behaviour is always compelling and extraordinary moments are captured, giving tantalising glimpses and compelling insights into the mating rituals, shows of affection, copulating and the resulting offspring. The images and subject matter are mesmerising, yet as a whole, the film feels fragmented, never reaching the heights of Microcosmos, March of the Penguins or Travelling Birds, on which director Laurent Charbonnier worked as cinematographer.

Filmed in 16 countries and featuring over 80 different species, the world of birds is the most prevalent. There is little narration; our eyes are our guide as we watch the displays, the poses, the sighs, cries and murmurs, the embraces and the art of loving from the sidelines. Swans in the snow are more graceful than the most graceful ballerina in Swan Lake. The music alerts us to high drama: there are giraffes, elephants, stags, zebras, kangaroos, crabs, birds, ducks, lions and frogs. Their sounds are all different: they growl, cry, howl, tweet, sing, squawk, croak. Time stands still as we watch a bird swinging on a branch. A male peacock with extraordinary plumage of a thousand eyes extended, circles the plain brown female peahen in a bid to impress her. Stags lock antlers in preparation for battle - winner takes all (in the gene pool).

Monkeys embrace upside down in the trees; a lioness growls her consent; there are kisses and shows of affection, from the likes of the orang-utans. For the copulating itself, precarious balancing is often required. Monkeys kiss. A little bird rests its head lovingly on its mate's shoulder. Then it's time for the eggs to be hatched, wide open beaks waiting impatiently to be fed and baby ducklings following their mother into the stream. A newborn deer takes its first wobbly steps on spindly legs, a baby elephant is coaxed to its feet, monkeys chatter as a baby suckles from the breast. The cinematography is extraordinary so it is disappointing that the film as a whole is not more satisfying.

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(France, 2007)

Les animaux amoureux

CAST: Documentary

NARRATION: Cécile De France (French version)

PRODUCER: Jean-Pierre Bailly

DIRECTOR: Laurent Charbonnier

SCRIPT: Not credited


EDITOR: Axelle Malavieille

MUSIC: Philip Glass

RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 4, 2008

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