Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5   User Rating 3 out of 5
Grey Owl (2000)
PG

The true story of Archie Grey Owl (Brosnan), a fake Indian guide and writer who inspired the world with his authentic tales of wilderness life and his plea to protect forest life.

It sounds very honourable, but unfortunately Grey Owl's ecological stance does not ennoble his being a fake as director Richard Attenborough hopes. Grey Owl being a fake soils the message and turns his speeches from valid to sideshow. The film admits that people turned against his ideas after he was revealed and that it was only much later that we became more ecologically-minded. Which rather suggests that at best he wasted his time and at worst he held us up.

But the punch that knocks the film out cold is the inviolate television mentality that the hero cannot lie. Tricky, really, given the subject matter. Yet ignoring the history of the man, Attenborough has him being pushed into giving his first talk by his girlfriend Pony and only writing his books because a publisher pressures him.

And just to cap everything, Grey Owl only faked it all because he wanted to be loved by the mother and father who abandoned him. Sob.

Attenborough says he does not care whether Grey Owl was a fake or not but by never allowing the character to be the charlatan he was he removes the sole point of interest in the entire film.

"Grey Owl" has gone straight to video in America and Attenborough has been complaining loudly that it's because US film distributors won't buy a movie without sex and explosions. He may have a point but the film is not good enough and the protest feels embarrassing.

If you like cuddly animals or you fancy Pierce Brosnan, you're in luck - though note that some animals die and Brosnan has to deliver some very ill lines.

Perhaps the film works best if you came to it not knowing the truth that Grey Owl was a fake. Sorry about that.

End Credits

Director: Richard Attenborough

Writer: William Nicholson

Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Annie Galipeau

Genre: Drama, Romance

Length: 118 minutes

Cinema: 3 November 2000

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