Videos and Films on Lions

This is a listing of videos and films produced about lions. The titles here are either documentaries, or dramas close enough to documenting historic events that they are useful for learning. Extensive as it is, it is undoubtedly far from complete. If you know of any titles that belong on this list, please email me using the link at the bottom of the page.

An Asterik (*) at the beginning of a listing indicates I have this film/video in my collection.

Updated 10-19-2004. Email address updated..

* 'African Lion, The', 1955, Walt Disney
(Video availability unknown at this time.) This early Disney documentary is considered one of the finest, if not the finest they have ever produced. It won much critical acclaim, including some major film awards in England. It is the standard treatment of the lion's life cycle, along with brief reviews of many other animals in his ecosystem. A lot of time is devoted to the elephant and the hippo. Of course, the story is told in classic Disney style! The cinematography is unusual and well-done. There are many well-done slow-motion scenes, many of which rival today's best documentary work. Note that there are some fairly intense scenes in this film. If you know of a source for this title, please let me know! Color, 75 minutes. This film is listed in the Internet Movie Database.
'Africa: The Serengeti' Lumivision LVD9515(Laserdisc) and also on DVD.
A home video version of the IMAX film of the same name. The central theme is the great Wildebeest migration that takes place each year on the Serengeti plain in East Africa. Although the film deals with quite a few different animals, lions are prominently featured. Beautiful cinematography, typical of IMAX films. One of the first titles available on the new DVD format. You can reach Lumivision on the web at 40 minutes.
Assignment Discovery: The Ultimate Guide to Big Cats, 1997, Discovery Communications.
Lion, tiger, cheetah, jaguar, panther, leopard. Graceful felines all...all locked in a desperate quest to survive. This video explores the distinguishing traits, behavioral characteristics, and evolutionary trends of the big cats, and analyzes the relationship these animals have with humans. With predator-prey hunt sequences that realistically depict life in the wild, and an equally honest look at human predation toward big cats, both their present situation and their future on earth come into sharp focus. (This is a part of the Discovery Channel school programs and comes with a short teaching guide. It is generally a very informative well done video. Has some animations that really help show how cats move.) 26 minutes.
* 'The Best Within', 2003, Grainger Television Australia
(No ISBN or catalog number.) This program focuses on a number of people around the world who share their lives with animals. There are two notable lion stories on this tape. First, a circus trainer raising the next generation of show lions around his traveling home. Second, a woman in Minnesota who has a very close relationship with her lion and two tigers. There are other big cat stories and many other animal stories on this delightful program. This show is the first installment of a series for the Animal Planet network. The video is only available at this time from Paul Bunyan's Animal Land, the owner of the aforementioned lion and two tigers. Approximately 50 minutes.
'The Big Cat Project Video'
By the 'Born Free Foundation'. A video about the rescue of a number of big cats.
*'Big cats of the Big Top', 1987, Family Home Entertainment. (VHS)
ISBN 1-55658-084-3 (Family Home Entertainment VHS 24329) An outstanding program about the history of big cat training for the circus. This program showcases the work of many famous trainers, including Clyde Beatty, Charly Baumann, Wade Burck and Gunther Gebel-Williams. This program includes much historic footage, as well as two complete performances. One of these features Gunther Gebel-Williams. This program is guaranteed to change your perspective on the great cat trainers and their cats. Suitable for childern and adults. Color, approx 50 minutes. The availability of this title is unknown.
*'Born Free' 1965, Columbia Tristar 01420 (VHS Clamshell)
ISBN 0-8001-9854-9 (VHS Videotape)A movie version of Joy Adamson's heartwarming story, about a lion cub named Elsa. Elsa was an orphaned cub and was re-adapted to the wild. Stars Bill Travers and Virginia Mckenna. The movie and it's theme song (Written by Roger Whittaker, who was born in Kenya) were major hits. (94 min.) There is an Internet Movie Database entry for this title. You can learn more about Joy Adamson's books on my Lion Books page. This program is also available (PAL only) from the Born Free Foundation.
* 'Born Free', 1982, Media Basics (35 mm filmstrip set.)
This unusual item is issued as part of Media Basic's 'Films into filmstrips' program. This program converted films of significant educational value into filmstrips that were more suitable for the classroom. (These were popular before VCR's were common in schools.) In this case, it was the feature film, 'Born Free'. The kit consists of three filmstrips, with three audio cassettes. A mass-market paperback copy of the book, 'Born Free' is included, as well as a study guide. All of this is packed in a vinyl storage case. Many frames of lion pictures! This item is undoubtedly not common.
'Born to be Free', 1992 (Producer unknown)
A followup on the Adamson lion project. After George Adamson's death at the hand of poachers, his assistant, Gareth Patterson carried on the ongoing lion release project. A story that is both happy and sad. This video is now available direct from Gareth Patterson on his website. (Note: most likely in PAL) Color, 50 minutes.
* 'The Brotherhood', 2001, BBC/Animal Planet
An installment of the 'Fangs!' series. The story of the takeover of a pride in a park just outside of Krueger National Park, South Africa. The story is initally and finally 'told to us' by the father of the two lions involved in the takeover. Not only is this a good lion natural history story, but it also shows how judicious human intervention can play a positive role in the management of a game park. Some of the photography is remarkable, especially of the takeover fight. I walked away from this video with a very warm feeling! May be available through Animal Planet
* 'Christian the Lion', 1976, Timeless Video, Hollywood
ISBN 1-55784-916-1, Timeless Video 84043. This movie is about the true story of a lion being returned to the wild. This is another installament of the Adamson saga, and stars the same people playing the Adamsons as 'Born Free'-- Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. The video of this film has only recently become available in the US. (12/2002) You can also learn more about this story from Born Free Foundation. Color, 87 minutes.
* 'Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion', 1965, MGM/UA
ISBN 0-7928-0637-9, Warner Home Video. This is the pilot of the popular 'Daktri' series. Clarence is rescued when he wanders into a village and does no harm. It is discovered he is crosseyed, and he promptly becomes the resident lion of the wildlife research center. From there, Clarence gets himself into all manner of trouble, but saves the day when poachers try to capture a troop of gorillas. A typical '60's 'B' movie, but very enjoyable. Color, 93 minutes.
* 'The Crater Lions', 1996, Nature
An unusual story about the decline of a lion pride in the Ngorogoro crater in Tanzania. Learn how competition from other prides, and aberrant behavior caused by inbreeding, did in a lion pride in one of the world's best spots to be a lion. An important program, as it shows lion behavior under unusual conditions. The cinematography is unique in the sense that it does an unusually good job documenting what is going on at any given moment. (Which is exactly what a documentary is supposed to do!) Tape now available through National Geographic and is available in most video stores. 1 hour.
'Cry of the Kalahari', 1987, National Geographic
A TV program adapted from the book of the same name. This program chronicles the work of Mark and Delia Owens in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. Although their study focus was the brown hyena, they also did a lot of path-breaking research on the local lion population. 1 hour. Read the companion book, 'Cry of the Kalahari'. More information on this book is available on my Lion Books page.
* 'Eternal Enemies-- Lions and Hyenas', 1991, National Geographic
(ISBN 0-7992-2387-X, Nat. Geo. Video 51557) The war between lions and hyenas wasn't just made up for 'The Lion King'. It is a very real, dangerous rivalry. Learn how these great predators struggle to coexist with each other. 1 Hour.
'Father of Lions'
A video about the life of George Adamson. May still be available by calling (612)-345-4437. (I have not verified this!)
* 'In the Lion's Den', 1994, Nature
Noted nature show host Anthony Hopkins decides to take to the field for an up close and personal encounter with the king of beasts. This show covers a lot of ground, and includes some fascinating sequences! 1 Hour.
* 'Intimate Enemies: Lions and Buffalo'
(Nature, 2000 season) This show showcases the realtionship between the lion and one of it's favorite prey animals, the Cape Buffalo. It also includes the usual life cycle theme incorporated into most lion documentaries. This program is nicely cinematographed, and includes some very dramatic hunting scenes. The soundtrack includes lots of natural sounds, but may be a bit overproduced. Musical touches, where used, were appropriate to the scene. Without being gory, it also includes some nice shots of how lions use their teeth to hunt and eat. It was shot in Ruaha National Park, in Southern Tanzania. This is an off-the-beaten-path park, and the first lion documentary I know of shot there. Another interesting first: This is also the first lion documentary (To my knowledge) to be shown in High Definition TV. It is available on video by calling 800-336-1917. Color, about 50 minutes.
* 'The Jungle King', 1996, Marshmallow Entertainment 1905-700033
A film on lions produced by cinematographer Will Taylor. This video is long on 'beauty shots' and short on information. It seems to have the production values of a student film. Nevertheless, it is enjoyable to watch, and the well-done soundtrack includes music that ranges from classical to African techno-pop. I have not seen this video in the US. The copy I have I picked up in Canada. 35 minutes.
* 'Kali the Lion', 1991, Nature
Follow a lioness as she struggles to survive in the hostile enviroment of East Africa. 1 Hour.
* The Kitty Kats - Itty bitty kiddy wildlife, 1997 Marshmallow Marketing Corp.
Before the king of the jungle becomes king, he starts out life as a tiny precious prince. The same is true with his feline cousins. Award winning cinematographers Leonard Lee Rue, Will Taylor, and Belinda Peck take their cameras into Africa and the American Wild to capture baby lions. leopards, cheetahs, bobcats, tigers and cougar cubs on film in all their precious glory! (Has video of the various cubs set to music with some narration of basic facts about each cat. It's geared to children, but has good information and some neat video footage.) About 40 minutes.
* 'Lions: Africa's king of the beasts', 1994, ABC
ISBN 1-56949-175-5 An unusual example of a animal documentary by a major commercial network. Well done, above average, highly recommended. Some great scenes, including a buffalo fatally wounding a lion, and a big male doing a belly flop into a water hole! Interestingly enough, the local ABC affiliate pre-empted this show for an infomercial when it did air! 50 minutes.
* 'The Lions are Free' 1968, 16mm film.
This is a documentary about the events leading up to, and the production of the movie 'Living Free'. It features Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of 'Born Free' and 'Living Free'. They share many of their personal thoughts. The print I have is on a reel labelled 'Viacom Productions', and the color is a bit faded. 60 minutes. UPDATE: This program is now available (PAL only) from the Born Free Foundation.
* 'Lions: King of the Serengeti' 1995, Quality Video 25103
A family-oriented program about the lives of lions. This is an outstanding program, with a lot of good information. The production is very 'laid-back' and not overproduced, as many 'family' videos are. This program was shot at the famous Shambala big cat preserve, outside of Los Angeles. May be closeout-priced at many video stores, and if it is, grab it! 30 minutes.
* 'Lions of Darkness', 1993, National Geographic
(ISBN 0-8001-3879-1 Cloumbia Tristar laserdisc.) (ISBN 0-8001-3878-3 VHS) This program is about the lions in Savuti National Park, Botswana. The name 'Lions of Darkness' refers to a strong male coalition there who exercised considerable influence over their range. The local lions also have a strong tendency to hunt when the moon is not out and things are very dark. This program was shot by the famous nature film producers Derek and Beverly Joubert. Excellent, with some very memorable moments. The laserdisc also contains a documentary about the Joubert's work, entitled 'A passion for Africa'. Laserdisc: 100 minutes, VHS: 72 minutes. There is a also a companion book for this program, entitled 'Hunting with the Moon: The Lions of Savuti'. You can find out more about this book on my Lion Books page.
* 'Lions of the African Night', 1987, National Geographic
(Widely available on VHS) Using special cameras, a large pride of lions is followed through a typical night. Includes an incredible sequence where 30 lions fight over one wildebeest, and then lick each others' wounds! 1 Hour.
'Lions of the Kalahari -Lords of the dry Land',?, Provision
No further information on this title, I think the title speaks for itself. 56 Minutes. Available from Wildnet Africa. Ref number V119, available in PAL and NTSC.
'Lions of the Serengeti', 1978, MCA Discovision 51-004
Hosted by Jane Goodall, this laserdisc explores lions in one of their most well-known habitat. This laserdisc has been out of print for many years, and I have never seen it. There is a website about this laserdisc at: blam/DiscoVision/Informational/51-004.htm. 51 minutes.
* 'Lion-Tiger Fight', 1930's, Castle Films (16 mm)
A short documentary about a fight between a lion and a tiger which occured during an expedition to capture some tigers in the Gir region of India. Typical of documentary/educational films of the time, it explores the background of the event, and the culture of the people involved. B/W, 25 minutes.
'Lions, Tigers and Bears', Republic Pictures 8105 (VHS)
Hosted by Jack Hanna of Marine World Afirca/USA, this video looks at the three famous animals supposedly inhabiting the forest of Oz.(Oh My!) I have yet to see it. Color, 48 minutes.
* 'Living Free', 1972, Columbia Tristar Pictures 60662
ISBN 0-8001-3137-1 (VHS Videotape.) Part two of the Joy Adamson/Elsa saga. Follows the development and readaption to the wild of Elsa's cubs. An all-time classic. 91 minutes. There is an Internet Movie Database entry for this title. You can learn more about Joy Adamson's books on my Lion Books page.
'The Long Night of the Lion' ,?, GTV productions.
No further information available on this title. Running time 30 minutes. Available from Wildnet Africa. Available in PAL and NTSC.
* 'Maneaters of Tsavo', 1996, Winstar Home Entertainment WHE71007
ISBN 1-57252-081-7 (VHS Videotape) A documentary about the infamous Tsavo maneaters. The producers attempt to follow the steps of Colonel Patterson as he built a bridge over the Tsavo River in 1898. The modern bridge is shown, sitting on what appears to be the original stone piers. Many different viewpoints about the Tsavo maneaters incident are presented, some more fiction than fact. Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas are interviewed on their feelings about this story, having just starred in a movie about this incident, 'The Ghost and the Darkness'. This video serves a valuable purpose in giving you a good idea about what it's like to go on safari in East Africa. Read more about it on the Tsavo Maneaters page on this site. 50 minutes.
'Most Endangered Species'
Apparently a video by George Adamson. May have been shown on PBS.
* 'Predators of the wild: Lion', 1992, Time Life Video V536-04
An installment of Time-Life's 'Predators of the wild' series. If you can only own one video about lions, this is the one to own! It covers the entire life cycle of lions with an emphasis on the advantages of pride life. Except for a little weak writing in the script, the production is extremely well done, and it is not 'overproduced'. (Note: this video is NOT an installment of an excessively gory video series that was popular about the same time.) This series is now widely available. I also believe this program is available on laserdisc. 52 minutes.
National Geographics Really Wild Animals - Swinging Safari, 1994, National Geographic Society.
(This video is geared to kids and has various animals in it, but it has a great sequence on lions. Dudley Moore is the voice of "Spin, the globe on the go" who travels to the Serengeti Plain and Kalahari Desert. There is a music video about lions that is great...I generally rewind that part a few times cuz the song is catchy. Though geared for a young audience I love this video.) 44 minutes.
* 'Queen of the Beasts', 1998, Discovery Channel
A documentary produced by Lion Researcher Dr.Craig Packer. In this program, Dr. Packer looks at and challenges many long-held beleifs as to why a lion pride functions as it does. One of these is though the pride males appear to be in control of the pride, it is the females who really run things. I have not seen this program in it's entirety, yet. As far as I know, it is not out on video. You can visit Dr. Packer's nice website at: .
'Royal Blood - Life and death in an African lion pride'
(Panthera Productions V104) Filmmakers Gerald Hinde and William Taylor spent 3 years in Botswana and South Africa producing this film. Interestingly enough, it follows some of the Savuti lions featured in 'Lions of Darkness' and 'Eternal Enemies- Lions and Hyenas', even though these two programs were made by entirely different producers. 52 Minutes. Available from Wildnet Africa. Available in PAL and NTSC.
'Shadows of Gold and Gray'
A video about Gareth Patterson, who took over the Adamson's work after their untimely death. Goes on to tell about the fate of those lions, and how things can improve for lions in the future. Should be available from Gareth Patterson's website, but was listed as temporarily unavailable. (Note: Undoubtedly in PAL) Color, 57 minutes.
'Shingalana', John Varty
A three part series about cinematographer John Varty rescuing and raising an orphaned cub. Each part runs about 52 minutes. Available from Wildnet Africa. Available in PAL and NTSC.
'Super Hunts, Super Hunters',?, Londolozi Productions
No further information available on this title. Running time 55 minutes. Available from Wildnet Africa. Available in PAL and NTSC.
'The Super Predators',?, Londolozi Productions
No further information available on this title. Running time 60 minutes. Available from Wildnet Africa. Available in PAL and NTSC.
Tales of the Serengeti - The Lion's Tale, 1995, ABC/Kane Productions.
Lions are the Serengeti's most feared and popular predators. Cameraman Gil Domb spent 18 months in the Ngorongoro Crater filming the triumphs and failures of a single pride. With the assistance of Edward Sindato, a local Masai warrior, Gil managed to capture on film scenes that illuminate the prides's lifestyle as well as sequences that make the heart beat faster. Lions may do very little in 20 hours out of 24, but its those other 4 hours that make all the difference. (I found this one to be a little dull and focused more on the Masai culture than on the lions.) 56 minutes.
* 'To Walk With Lions', 1999, Kingsborough Greenlight Pictures, Canada
(No ISBN. Fox Home Video 2001974) A movie about the life and work of George Adamson. As usual with this sort of thing, the story has been 'hollywoodized', and contains some inaccuracies. The biggest one involves who ends up with the lions after George's death. Nevertheless, it apparently contains some nice cinematography, and Richard Harris turns in a good performance as George Adamson. Color, 108 minutes.
'Wild Discovery: The Maneaters of Tsavo', 1999, Discovery Channel
Not released yet. A video about the story of the Tsavo maneaters and the recent discovery of the 'maneaters' cave'. Look for more info on this title soon! Visit the associated website!
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