Madagascar split from the supercontinent of Gondwana about 150 million years ago. As a result, most of the living creatures in Madagascar are unique to the ecosystems in the island. Madagascar: The Last Inheritor of Gondwana is a documentary that does an excellent job of showing Madagascar’s magnificent biodiversity, but falls short in delivering Madagascar’s “clear” and “urgent” message.
Massimo Simion, nature photographer and filmmaker, is the narrator. Simion speaks in Italian and the voice-over is in English. Simion takes the viewers through all of Madagascar’s breathtaking landscapes, including: the rain forests in the north, the rocky plateau in the central region, the spiny forests in the south, the mangrove forests in the coast line, and even the depths of the ocean in Madagascar’s seabed and coral reefs. Simion also does a great job discussing the island’s different fauna and flora biodiversity.
Simion’s love and closeness to nature is contagious and engaging; Simion climbs trees and mountains, feeds the animals, catches snakes and crocodiles, and goes swimming. The film’s urgent message calls for us to remain vigilant “so that every creature, every plant, and every place with a life develops in a natural way, [and] is not damaged by human activity.” Simion’s actions are contradicting this message. Many times, Simion closeness made the animals appear uncomfortable which made me as a viewer also feel uncomfortable. I found myself hoping to see less of Simion and more of Madagascar and its creatures.
As an introduction to Madagascar’s natural beauty, the photography in the film is wonderful. The information offered in the film is basic and many times left me hoping for more. In general, the documentary seems to be lacking a clear structure and an overarching narrative. That it is necessary to protect the unique and unrepeatable biodiversity of Madagascar and the rest of the world should be the message of the entire film, yet it only appears at the end. Simion’s seems to be more concerned in telling the viewer how to get close to the animals without getting yourself hurt. The film is great in showing the wonders of Madagascar, but for viewers looking for something deeper, it misses the mark.
How to order:
Madagascar: The Last Inheritor of Gondwana
Narrated by Massimo Simion
Studio: Belmondo Entertainment
Duration: 72 minutes
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