Review: ‘Elephant’ (2020), narrated by Meghan Markle, also known as Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex

April 3, 2020

by Carla Hay

A scene from “Elephant” (Photo courtesy of Disney+)

“Elephant” (2020)

Directed by Mark Linfield

Culture Representation: This Disneynature documentary chronicles the journey of a herd of elephants in southern Africa, as they travel across the Kalahari Desert, from the Okavango Delta to the Zambezi River.

Culture Clash: The elephants must navigate their way through several potentially deadly dangers, including predatory lions and crocodiles.

Culture Audience: “Elephant” is a family-friendly film that will appeal primarily to people who like documentaries about nature and animals.

A scene from “Elephant” (Photo courtesy of Disney+)

There’s a certain level of quality that people have come to expect from Disneynature, the nature/animal documentary production arm of Walt Disney Studios. Disneynature films usually chronicle a family of wild animals, focusing on a few family members that have distinct personalities or have leadership positions in the group. And there’s always an adorable “kid” animal who gets a lot of the screen time.

“Elephant” follows this formula too, but it’s a formula that works especially well for animals as intelligent and fascinating as elephants. “Elephant” also has the benefit of being filmed in diverse terrains of southern Africa, which result in the kind of stunning cinematography that’s also become a characteristic of Disneynature films.

Narrated by Meghan Markle (also known as Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex), “Elephant” chronicles the 1,000-mile round-trip journey of a herd of elephants, as they travel from across the Kalahari Desert, from the Okavango Delta to the Zambezi River and back again. The elephants’ habitual migration, which has been going on for untold centuries, is prompted by whichever areas have the most water after flooding. It’s a journey filled with plenty of adventure and danger, which make this documentary more fascinating than a lot of scripted movies. The narration is good enough, even though it’s sometimes delivered in a hokey tone of voice.

“Elephant,” directed by Mark Linfield, keeps the story simple by focusing on only three of the elephants in the herd (they’re the only three elephants who are named in the film): Shani, a 40-year-old elephant; Jomo, who is Shani’s 1-year-old son; and Gaia, Shani’s 50-year-old sister who is the queen of the herd. Everyone in the herd is related in some way to Gaia, who makes the decisions on when and where the herd will migrate. As is the case with most elephant herds, it’s a female-majority group, with the only males being children or young adults. (Adult male elephants usually don’t travel in herds that have children.)

Beyond the basics of food, water and shelter, the key to elephants’ survival is for them to travel in a herd. This documentary shows that elephants, unlike many other wild animals, are very loyal to each other and will rarely leave their children behind unless forced to do so. And the three elephants who are the focus of the film have distinct personalities.

Gaia is the wise matriarch who makes careful and thoughtful decisions in leading the herd. As her respectful younger sister, Shani has the role of second-in-command who learns by observing what Gaia does. Jomo is an energetic and sometimes mischievous kid, who likes to play hide-and-seek or tag with his fellow kid elephants or sometimes other animals(such as warthogs) that the herd encounters along the way.

The documentary’s writing and narration can be a little melodramatic, with lines such as, “Like blood through arteries, the water sustains all life here” or “Social life is like oxygen for these elephants, and they embrace it face-first.” However, there’s also some humor in the documentary too, including a fart joke when one of the elephants is shown passing gas. Meghan asks in the tone of a mother catching her kids in the act, “Oh, who did that?”

The movie also uses a technique multiple times in the movie to simulate an elephant’s memory, by showing a close-up of an elephant’s eye (usually Gaia’s) and then cutting to a dazzling montage of images of life that an elephant experiences and sees in this part of Africa. And although many people might be aware that elephants use their trunks like a human would use a hand, seeing it in action in this documentary is sure to impress. Because elephants are herbivores, sensitive viewers won’t have to worry about seeing elephants preying on other animals to eat.

However, it wouldn’t be a Disneynature documentary without at least one life-or-death experience. There are definitely some heart-pounding moments in the film, especially when the elephants encounter a hungry pride of lions. The documentary also shows what happens when the elephants encounter buffalos and crocodiles. There’s also a very suspenseful moment when a baby elephant gets stuck in quicksand-like mud and is in danger of suffocating to death.

“Elephant” will also educate people on what types of plant life are preferred by elephants in this region. Elephants love mopane, but so do mopane worms, so these worms (as small as they are, compared to elephants) are competitive food rivals for elephants. Also important to the elephants’ survival are baobab trees, which have the ability to store more water than most other trees, and are welcome sustenance after long treks in the desert.

The documentary also shows how emotionally sensitive elephants are when it comes to family. When the herd encounters a set of elephant skeletons, they touch the skeletons in such a way that it evokes mournful respect. And when they walk one by one past the skeletons, it resembles a funeral procession.

One of the most visually stunning parts of the documentary is when the herd arrives at Victoria Falls. The waterfall scenes are enough reason to see this movie on the biggest screen possible. There are also some scenes captured during the sunset that are absolutely beautiful.

Watching “Elephant” will probably inspire more than a few people to want to take an African safari, even though the reality of being in this environment is a lot more dangerous than it looks in this movie. (Disney+ has a behind-the-scenes documentary about making this movie called “In the Footsteps of Elephant,” which is highly recommended viewing, only after you’ve seen “Elephant,” since “In the Footsteps of Elephant” reveals several spoilers.) “Elephant” represents some of the best of what Disneynature has to offer, and the movie accomplishes the goal of both entertaining and educating people of all ages.

Disney+ premiered “Elephant” on April 3, 2020.

Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: TV specials and special screenings

May 7, 2018

The royal wedding of Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle will take at Windsor Castle in England on May 19, 2018. Several networks will have a live telecast of the event. Here’s a rundown of what royal watchers in the United States can see in celebration of the wedding.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Photo by Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock)

The following is a press release from E!:

As the Royals and A-list stars converge on Windsor, England to celebrate the upcoming fairytale nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, E! builds on its continued coverage of the Royal Family culminating with the event of the year. The network’s coverage begins on Monday, May 7th at 9p ET/PT with “The Real Princess Diaries: From Diana to Meghan” wedding special, breaking down the future of the modern day Princess through the lives of three trailblazing women: Diana, Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan Markle. Then on Saturday, May 19th starting at 5a ET/2a PT, reporting live, direct from Windsor Castle, “E! Live From The Royal Wedding” featuring pop culture expert Giuliana Rancic, celebrity fashion stylist Brad Goreski, royal expert E! News Chief Correspondent Melanie Bromley, and E! UK TV host Sarah-Jane Crawford provides viewers with unparalleled and unpredictable, five-hour, cross-platform coverage from multiple vantage points. Rounding out the night, the network will air “E! Royal Wedding Rundown,” an hour-long recap special of the historic event, at 7:00p ET/PT. The special and day of live coverage will be produced by Wilshire Studios.

“The Real Princess Diaries: From Diana to Meghan” special features a roster of royal, pop culture, and style experts including Karamo Brown (Queer Eye), Michelle Lee (Editor-In-Chief, Allure Magazine), Melanie Bromley, Zanna Roberts Rassi (Senior Fashion Editor, Marie Claire Magazine), Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (The Fug Girls, “gofugyourself”), and more. The special will look at how these modern day royals are redefining what that means through their lifestyles, fashion, philanthropy, and socially. Viewers will also get a chance to look back at how Diana set the standard for future generations, how Kate has carried that torch, and how Meghan will further redefine what the world thinks of the British royal family. These royal insiders will revisit the lavish weddings of Diana and Kate, and make predictions of what’s to come for Meghan’s big day.

E! News will also have dedicated Royal Wedding coverage the entire week leading up to the ceremony as E!’s resident royal expert Melanie Bromley does comprehensive reporting live in London and Windsor, England with up-to-the-minute updates on Prince Harry and Meghan, along with final preparations for the high-profile nuptials, kicking off Monday, May 14th at 12p ET/PT on “Daily Pop” and 7p ET/PT on “E! News.” Plus, E! News’ coverage will dive deep into these refreshingly modern pop-cultural darlings and their captivating, storybook-like romance, and bring fans all of the details from the star-studded celebrations.

E! News’ fan-favorite Instagram Stories will also feature a special edition of Royal Wedding coverage on Saturday, May 19th, delivering E!’s fresh, comedic and fast-paced take on the biggest moments from the wedding festivities. Fans can follow every moment as the day unfolds and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content on E! News digital and @enews across social platforms (InstagramTwitter, and Facebook) as well as @e_news on Snapchat.

Complete Schedule:

Monday, May 7th at 9p ET/PT

E!’s royal wedding special “The Real Princess Diaries: From Diana to Meghan” will discuss the evolution of royal life and the future of the modern day Princess through the lives of three trailblazing women: Diana, Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan Markle.

Monday, May 14th at 12p ET/PT & 7p ET/PT

Leading up to the ceremony, “Daily Pop” and “E! News” will deliver dedicated Royal Wedding coverage the entire week as E!’s resident royal expert Melanie Bromley does comprehensive reporting live in London and Windsor, England with up-to-the-minute updates on Prince Harry and Meghan, along with final preparations for the high-profile nuptials. Plus, E! News’ coverage will bring fans all of the details from the star-studded celebrations.

Saturday, May 19th at 5:00a ET/2:00a PT

“E! Live From the Royal Wedding” — the network’s unparalleled and unpredictable five-hour wedding coverage — hosted by pop culture expert Giuliana Rancic, celebrity fashion stylist Brad Goreski, royal expert E! News Chief Correspondent Melanie Bromley, and E! UK TV host Sarah-Jane Crawford.

Saturday, May 19th at 7:00p ET/PT

“E! Royal Wedding Rundown,” the hour-long recap special will air immediately following E!’s live coverage of the historic event.

Digital & Social

E! News’ fan-favorite Instagram Stories will feature a special edition of Royal Wedding coverage on Saturday, May 19th, delivering E!’s fresh, comedic and fast-paced take on the biggest moments from the wedding festivities. Fans can get exclusive behind-the-scenes content on E! News digital and @enews across social platforms (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook) as well as @e_news on Snapchat.

Fox logo

(Image courtesy of Fox)

The following is a press release from Fox:

“MEGHAN MARKLE: AN AMERICAN PRINCESS” 

FRIDAY, MAY 11, ON FOX

Featuring Interviews with Markle’s Half-Sister, Samantha Markle; Broadcast Journalist Piers Morgan; Princess Diana’s Former Butler, Paul Burrell; and More

The following is a press release from Fox:

The all-new special MEGHAN MARKLE: AN AMERICAN PRINCESS will air Friday, May 11 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. The two-hour event will focus on Markle’s life and potential legacy as the first American to marry into the British royal family since 1937.

Airing just days before Markle’s marriage on May 19 to His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales, also known as Prince Harry, MEGHAN MARKLE: AN AMERICAN PRINCESS will offer viewers an inside look into the lives of this global power couple straight from experts, socialites and friends intimately connected with the House of Windsor.

The special will examine Markle’s life before Harry, and how both her career as an actress and passion for activism couldhelp shape her role as a member of the royal family. Broadcast journalist Piers Morgan will provide exclusive commentary on the many ways this spirited young American will have to adapt to life in the traditional royal household. Markle’s half-sister, Samantha Markle, will offer insight into her sibling’s upbringing and describe the racial prejudice their family often faced. Also featured in the special will be Royal Correspondent and Harry’s biographer, Katie Nicholl; and Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s former butler, who will look back at Prince Harry’s childhood. Additionally, the special will feature conversations with other figures from Markle’s past, including schoolmates, co-stars and more.

“Since the early days of the British monarchy, right up to the present, the royal family has captivated the minds and imaginations of people across the globe,” said Rob Wade, President, Alternative Entertainment and Specials, Fox Broadcasting Company. “With Meghan Markle on the cusp of becoming a real princess, joining the likes of Princess Kate and the late Princess Diana, this special will give viewers a unique look and insight into her journey, from her upbringing in Southern California to her wedding to Prince Harry in Windsor Castle.”

 “MEGHAN MARKLE: AN AMERICAN PRINCESS will provide viewers with the definitive inside story of the most talked-about wedding of the year, packed with exclusive insights into how Meghan and the world’s most famous family will change each other’s lives,” said Daniela Neumann, Managing Director of Spun Gold TV.

“The whole world is fascinated by the Meghan Markle fairytale of marrying into the British royal family,” said Natalka Znak, Founder and President of Znak & Co. “With the access and specialist knowledge of our British partners, Spun Gold, the special promises to reveal details of Meghan’s new royal life that will amaze American audiences.”

 MEGHAN MARKLE: AN AMERICAN PRINCESS is produced by Spun Gold TV and Znak & Co. Bridget Boseley, Eamon Hardy and Natalka Znak serve as executive producers. Follow the special on Twitter @FOXTV and join the discussion using #AmericanPrincess. Fox Networks Group Content Distribution holds exclusive international distribution rights.

Parisa Fitz-Henley as Meghan Markle and Murray Fraser as Prince Harry in “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance” (Photo courtesy of Lifetime)

The following is a press release from Lifetime:

YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO A ROYAL WEDDING EVENT AS THE LIFETIME FEATURE  HARRY & MEGHAN: A ROYAL ROMANCE HEADS TO THE ALTAR ON MAY 13

Save the date for the Lifetime Feature, Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance premiering Sunday, May 13 at 8pm ET/PT, leading into the real-life wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle later that week.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance follows the fairytale romance of Prince Harry (Murray Fraser, The Loch) and Meghan Markle (Parisa Fitz-Henley, Midnight Texas) from the moment they met after being set up by friends, through their initial courtship when they were able to keep their romance under wraps, and ultimately the intense global media attention surrounding their relationship and Meghan’s life as a divorced American actress.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance also stars Steve Coulter as Prince Charles, Bonnie Soper as Diana, Burgess Abernethy as Prince William, Laura Mitchell as Kate Middleton, Maggie Sullivun as Queen Elizabeth II, Deborah Ramsay as Camilla Bowles, Preston Jakub Karwat as Prince George and Briella Wintraub as Princess Charlotte. Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance is produced by Crown Productions and Lighthouse Pictures for Lifetime with Merideth Finn and Michele Weiss executive producing. Menhaj Huda directs from a script written by Scarlett Lacey and Terrence Coli.

A+E Networks holds worldwide distribution rights to Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (Photo by REX/Shutterstock)

The following is a press release from TLC:

TLC CELEBRATES THE ROYAL WEDDING OF MEGHAN MARKLE AND PRINCE HARRY WITH TWO DAYS OF SPECIAL PROGRAMMING BEGINNING MAY 18

Royal Wedding Programming Includes Three, One-Hour Documentaries Covering

All Things Meghan and Harry, a Live Feed of the Ceremony, and a Spirited Panel Discussion Led by TLC Wedding and Style Experts

 TLC is giving fans a front row seat to the royal event everyone has been waiting for: the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle! Beginning Friday, May 18, the day before the momentous occasion, the network will air back-to-back, must-see wedding programming, including three documentaries that delve into everything leading up to their big day – from each of their early lives to the wedding rules of royalty.

The celebration continues Saturday, May 19 at 5:00 a.m. EST/2:00 a.m. PST, with TLC’S ROYAL WEDDING LIVE, a live four-hour feed of the royal wedding, followed by the premiere of TLC’S ROYAL WEDDING REVEALED later that night at 10/9c. The one-hour special, hosted by Shaun Robinson, will feature TLC wedding and style experts Randy Fenoli, Lori Allen, Monte Durham, George Kotsiopoulos and Hayley Paige as they capture all the details surrounding the ceremony, from the guests to the wedding party, Meghan’s dress, the castle, and any last-minute bloopers. TLC’s wedding panelists will also discuss the life that Meghan is about to enter as she begins a new royal chapter with Prince Harry.

Twitter commentary from TLC wedding and style experts Randy Fenoli, Lori Allen, Monte Durham, George Kotsiopoulos and Hayley Paige will be shown on-air during the wedding’s live feed. Join the conversation using #TLCRoyalWedding.

Friday night’s three, one-hour documentaries are produced by the international division of British company ITN Productions.  See below for more information:

 PRINCE HARRY: WILD NO MORE 

On Friday, May 18th at 8/7c, it’s the news the world has been waiting for: Prince Harry is tying the knot and his chosen bride is no royal wallflower. She’s independent, outspoken…and American! This one-hour documentary will chart the royal highs, and some embarrassing lows

in the life of the mischievous little boy who grew up to become a very modern prince charming. How, with Meghan Markle by his side, is Harry set to change the face of the royal family?

 MEGHAN MARKLE: A ROYAL LOVE STORY (WT)

On Friday, May 18th at 9/8c, TLC will premiere an hour-long special dedicated exclusively to Meghan Markle, including interviews with her friends, stylists and royal experts about the British Monarchy’s newest member. The special delves into Meghan’s childhood, growing up the only daughter of a mixed-race couple in LA, and her career from trainee diplomat to briefcase girl on Deal or No Deal, to multimillionaire Hollywood actress. MEGHAN MARKLE: A ROYAL LOVE STORY (WT) will also explore the rigorous training she must undergo to transform from actress to princess, the sacrifices she will make to enter this life of duty, and the modern makeover she has single-handedly given to this most famous of royal families.

SECRETS OF THE ROYAL WEDDING

On Friday, May 18th, at 10/9c, TLC will take a look at the whirlwind royal romance that led up to the highly anticipated wedding. Meghan’s walk down the aisle inside a fairytale castle will attract the biggest TV audience of her life. But how will Meghan and Harry make sure their big day feels like their own? The special will go behind-the-scenes to uncover the secrets of the royal wedding and reveal how Meghan and Harry will combine pomp and pageantry with plenty of personal style–and even a little royal rebellion to celebrate their very modern love story.

The following is a press release from NBC:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Wedding Venue, Windsor Castle, Berkshire, U.K. (Photo by  REX/Shutterstock)

ALL FOUR HOURS OF NBC NEWS’ ‘TODAY’ HEAD TO WINDSOR FOR ROYAL WEDDING COVERAGE

Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Megyn Kelly and Kathie Lee Gifford will Anchor Their Respective Hours Live from Windsor on Friday, May 18

On Wedding Day: Guthrie and Kotb Co-Anchor ‘TODAY at the Royal Wedding,’  Joined by Kelly, Gifford, Al Roker and Sheinelle Jones Beginning at 4:30 AM ET

In Primetime Ahead of Wedding: Guthrie and Kotb Take Viewers Behind the Scenes in ‘Inside the Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan’ on Wednesday, May 16

All four hours of NBC News’ TODAY are heading to Windsor to bring the excitement of the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to viewers back home. Ahead of the nuptials, Savannah GuthrieHoda KotbMegyn Kelly and Kathie Lee Gifford will broadcast their respective hours live from an exclusive location overlooking Windsor Castle on Friday, May 18 (7-11 a.m. ET). Al Roker and Sheinelle Jones will also join TODAY from the United Kingdom.

On Saturday, May 19 (4:30-11 a.m. ET), Guthrie and Kotb will co-anchor “TODAY at the Royal Wedding” from an exclusive vantage point overlooking Windsor Castle where Prince Harry and Markle will emerge as husband and wife. They will be joined by Kelly, Gifford, Roker and Jones from various prime locations. Additionally, there will be a team of NBC News correspondents, including Kelly Cobiella, Rehema EllisStephanie Gosk and Keir Simmons, capturing every facet of the royal wedding and its festivities in and around Windsor and London. The broadcast will also include insight and analysis from royal experts and contributors: Wilfred Frost, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Closing Bell”; Zanna Roberts Rassi, British fashion expert and senior fashion editor of Marie Claire; Andrew Roberts, British historian; Camilla Tominey, royal editor of Sunday Express; and Ken Wharfe, Princess Diana’s former bodyguard.

NBC News’ Savannah Sellers, co-host of “Stay Tuned” on Snapchat, will cover the royal wedding and anchor the show from London. In addition, TODAY.com will feature original stories and video on the news, style and food aspects of the momentous celebration during the lead-up to the wedding day. NBC News will also cover the event on all digital platforms with original content, video and interactive graphics on a special content hub on NBCNews.com.

As a prelude to the most-talked about wedding of the year, Guthrie and Kotb will host an NBC primetime special, “Inside the Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan,” on Wednesday, May 16 at 10 p.m. ET, giving viewers an exclusive and unprecedented glimpse into the fairy-tale romance that has captured the imagination and hearts of everyone around the world. The one-hour broadcast will feature interviews with close friends of the couple, along with prominent figures from the worlds of fashion, sports and show business. Kotb will also report live from Windsor, beginning Thursday, May 17, giving viewers an early peak of the final details and events in the run-up to the royal marriage.NBC will lift the curtain on the most talked-about nuptials of the year with “Inside the Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan,” set for Wednesday, May 16 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Close friends of the couple, who will be guests at the Windsor Castle ceremony and intimate reception, will tell the story of how Harry and Meghan fell in love, their unique courtship and the journey they’ve shared leading to the most modern royal wedding of all time. The special will also feature exclusive interviews with prominent figures from the worlds of fashion, sports and show business.

“Inside the Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan” will go behind the scenes to reveal the secrets of what it takes to stage an event on this scale with interviews from those involved in the May ceremony and previous weddings.

These experts will reveal what will happen in the biggest royal wedding since Kate Middleton and Prince William, and a ceremony rich in history and tradition, including rarely seen archival wedding footage. From Meghan’s wedding dress and closely guarded cake and flowers, to the spectacular secrets of the venue itself, St. George’s Chapel, the special will give unique insight into this hugely anticipated event, and what kind of a wedding, and marriage, this will be.

Filmed in Europe, Africa and the U.S., the special will also feature the people who have inspired the pair on their global charity-focused journey, from the motivational stories of Harry’s fellow soldiers injured overseas, to the role models and mentors who have influenced Meghan’s passions and interests.

“Inside the Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan” is produced by ITN Productions with Ian Rumsey serving as executive producer, Rachel Kinnock as producer, and Nathaniel Lippiett as producer and director.

The following is a press release from Fathom Events:

For the First Time Ever, the Royal Wedding Comes to U.S. Movie Theaters for a Commercial-Free Fan Experience on May 19 Only
Fathom Events, BritBox and ITV Bring ‘Harry & Meghan: The Royal Wedding’ – the Only Full, Uninterrupted Broadcast of the Ceremony – to Cinemas Nationwide

The biggest wedding of the year is about to get the big screen treatment, giving royal fans in the U.S. a front row seat to this monumental event. Fathom Events and BritBox, the subscription service from BBC Studios and ITV, bring moviegoers nationwide Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s highly-anticipated nuptials, captured live from Windsor Castle in England and presented commercial-free on May 19.

Tickets for Harry & Meghan: The Royal Weddingcan be purchased at www.FathomEvents.com or participating box offices.
Fathom Events and BritBox will present “Harry & Meghan: The Royal Wedding” in nearly 200 U.S. cinemas on Saturday, May 19 at 10 a.m. local time, through Fathom’s Digital Broadcast Network (DBN). A complete list of participating theater locations is available on the Fathom Events website (theaters and participants are subject to change).“There’s something special about witnessing history unfold,” said Fathom Events CEO Ray Nutt. “We’re thrilled to partner with BritBox to give moviegoers across the country an opportunity to watch one of the most exciting events of the year in a grand, cinematic setting.”

“We are honored to present ‘Harry & Meghan: The Royal Wedding’ to a U.S. audience in such a big way,” said BritBox President Soumya Sriraman. “A Royal wedding has never before been screened in movie theaters, but we believe that an event as monumental as this one is fit for the big screen.”