With the current forced social sabbatical and more time spent in doors, many of us are turning to our televisions for entertainment, catching up on all the latest movies and series. But how about some old classics too? For some home-viewing inspiration, we have put together a list of African-inspired stories and documentaries that we think everyone should see. Hopefully they’ll inspire you to book your safari getaway once travel resumes too!
BBC Africa – You can’t go on a safari to Africa without watching the BBC’s incredible six-part mini-series on the continent’s wild places and wildlife, narrated by the wonderful Sir David Attenborough. This series covers black rhinos, the Kalahari Desert, the savannahs of East Africa, the wildlife of the Congo, animals living in Southern Africa, the Sahara Desert and the future of conservation.
Meerkat Manor – A four-series show on Animal Planet, Meerkat Manor blends traditional wildlife documentary with dramatic narration to produce compelling viewing of a dozen families of meerkats in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. The meerkats become endearing characters with their everyday antics and life events.
The Last Lions – When a rival pride attacks and kills her mate, lioness Ma di Tau faces an arduous battle to preserve the lives of herself and her three cubs. She knows the conquering lions will kill her offspring if they are found, so she leads them to Duba Island. There, she and her cubs face additional danger from the hungry crocodiles and the fierce water buffalo.
BASED ON TRUTH
Born Free – After Elsa, one of the three lion cubs tamed by George, creates a ruckus, he is forced by his bosses to send her back to the wild. A year later, George is happy that Elsa hasn’t forgotten him.
I Dreamed of Africa – Inspired by the true story of indomitable Kuki Gallmann, the film tells of a beautiful and inquisitive woman who had the courage to escape from her comfortable yet monotonous life in Italy to start anew in the African wilderness with her son, Emanuele, and her new husband, Paolo. Gallmann faces great danger there but eventually becomes a celebrated conservationist.
Shaka Zulu – At the beginning of the 19th century, Zulu chieftain Shaka unites the warring tribes and challenges the forces of British colonialism. Filmed on location in South Africa with a cast including Henry Cele as Shaka and Edward Fox, Robert Powell, and Christopher Lee, this 1986 production is the most repeatedly-screened miniseries in US TV history.
Gorillas in the Mist – This film is an adaptation of wildlife expert Dian Fossey’s autobiography. Midwesterner Fossey (Sigourney Weaver) leaves the United States for Africa, where she studies the gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda. As Fossey develops a bond with the animals, she also becomes wary of the poachers who prey on them.
The Ghost and the Darkness – Set in 1898 and starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas, this movie is based on the true story of two lions in East Africa that killed dozens of people working on a railroad. The railroad company decides to bring in a famed American hunter to kill the lions, but the carnage continues. Don’t let this story put you off going on safari to see lions though!
Out of Africa – A memoir of Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) detailing her life on her coffee plantation as well as a tribute to some of the people who touched her life there. It also provides a vivid snapshot of African colonial life in the last decades of the British Empire.
Cry Freedom – South African journalist Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) is forced to flee the country, after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, the black activist Steve Biko (Denzel Washington).
Holiday in the Wild – After her husband ends their marriage, Kate embarks on a solo second honeymoon in Africa. There, she and Derek, a pilot, rescue a baby elephant. While nursing the elephant back to health, Kate discovers how much she loves her new surroundings.
The Gods Must be Crazy – A genuinely funny South African tale about the comic conjunction of two wildly different cultures as represented by one Kalahari bushman, whose tribe hasn’t yet reached the Stone Age, and bumbling, neurotic whites and blacks who, in one way and another, cannot cope with contemporary civilization.
The Bucket List – This coronavirus outbreak has made us realise how short and precious life is. After this pandemic is over, many of us will probably fulfil their bucket list. Two gentlemen fulfil their “bucket list,” a list of activities to do before they “kick the bucket.”
Black Panther – Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk
Hopefully, this list will bring you some inspiration and entertainment. Let us know which movie you loved most, which ones left you cold and if you think there is a title missing from this list.
Stay home. Stay safe. And see you soon!