Sunday, May 15, 2016

Movie Review: A Far-Off Place* (Disney, DVD, 1993, 107 minutes)

Three Unlikely Travelers - Again

Not just another desert trek by kids trying to escape the bad guys who killed their parents and burned down the family compound, A Far Off Place
reminds me of the better Walkabout, a 1971 movie set in Australia, not Africa.

In A Far Off Place, these children need to find water and search and kill for food - and escape alligators and survive blisters, with one of our heros in a suit jacket all through his months-long escapade, all the while being chased in helicopters by armed bad guy elephant-murderers and trackers.

“Learn how to cross a desert while being chased by ivory poachers, how to get a herd of friendly elephants to cover your tracks. . . .”

Both movies have children traversing a desert, for days on end, on foot – one, a white girl and the other, a “native” boy. Both movies have fantastic scenery, beautiful enough to frame and put on your wall. Both movies are rated PG – family, adventure, shooting, and survival. Kids win in the end of both. Of course. Plus we have a little romance along with a lot of adventure in the 1993 flick as well as a young Reese Witherspoon, a spotty actress here who has matured since then.

Good Dog, Bad Dogs

Unlike Walkabout, A Far Off Place has a dog, which is why it is reviewed here in DogEvals.

Do you have a dog-hungry child? One who will watch any movie with a dog in it?

Far Off has a lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback (look hard for the ridge and see if you can detect it more than twice!), in nearly every scene, but, there was little bonding or even human-canine interaction in the film until . . . can you wait until about halfway through for a game of fetch in the desert?

And, yes, the Ridgeback miraculously escapes a pack of attacking dogs in a hard-to-believe (for adults) miraculous escape followed by the expected successful jump over a large ravine after which one of our young heros nurses the Ridgeback back to health (quickly).

Beautiful and Haunting

Parents will be enchanted by - no - will be mesmerized by the scenes of Africa - by orangey sunrises, blood-red sunsets, the requisite silhouettes, the big game, the starkly beautiful Kalahari Desert – every beautiful postcard ever seen in one movie.


It might be best for the little ones to come late to the viewing of A Far Off Place and miss the carnage of a murdered elephant herd for their tusks even more so than for the night attack on a small settlement in the African bush where all the sleeping adults are shot and killed (parents of the children). But the children quickly recover their loss in time to trek across the desert and escape the poachers.

This movie earned the seal of approval by the AHA, the American Humane Association, and the beginning of the film shows an unusual caveat about the fact that no animals were harmed even though the scenes depict the opposite – after all, it is a Disney film. (Far Off was filmed about the time CGI [computer-generated imagery] came into being.)

The Final Word

On the whole, a good movie for the pre-teen girl (for the romance) and boy (for the adventure) and a source of conversation about not wasting animals but preserving them – a hard lesson to watch, for some.

*Available at Amazon and your local library

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