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White Wilderness

This documentary is one of the best Disney ever produced, with the strengths and weaknesses alike of that studio's documentaries - excellent visually and technically, but its narration is all too often vapid, silly, or boring, and gives an added difficulty that the narrator's monotone might put some viewers to sleep. But the visuals more than make up for those shortcomings. It can't be too highly recommended as a family movie, with good footage of a variety of animals.

On a sadder note, its being filmed in Alberta, Canada, meant the location wasn't native habitat for the lemmings featured in one segment. The filmmakers bought those small animals from Inuit children from Manitoba strictly for use in the film, and the helpless rodents were put on a snow-covered turntable, then filmed from various angles, to produce "migration" sequences. Afterward, the creatures were taken to a cliff overlooking a river and herded into the water; the final sequence used only a handful of lemmings deceptively photographed to create the illusion of a large herd of migrating creatures, and unfortunately has become the basis of widespread belief that lemmings commit suicide en masse when their numbers grow too large, which is not true.

But as a beautiful film with fascinating vistas and top-notch footage of birds and large mammals, it's a great documentary for its time, and still capable of holding an entire family's attention.
Director(s): James Algar
Writer(s): James Algar
Cast: Narration by Winston Hibler
Release Date: 1958   
Keyword: 1958; Arctic; lemmings; large animals; Disney release
Target Age: 6+   Category: environment
Documentary: no
Language: English   Reviewer's Name: Micah
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