Raising the Mammoth (2000)

Directed by Jean-Charles Deniau
Written by Adrienne Ciuffo
Narrated by Jeff Bridges


Anamorphic: N/A; presented in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Rent It.

Bernard Buigues wanted to track down a mammoth. Buigues has a distinct advantage over his ancestors in doing so, since these days the animals really aren't doing much and don't need to be, oh, tricked into falling off a cliff or something. But Buigues wasn't satisfied with the concept of finding skeletal remains, or even just finding a body that got frozen and preserved--this has, of course, been done. Buigues wanted to find a mammoth in the ice, and keep the mammoth in the ice, thus preserving both the animal and the animal's immediate surroundings until researchers could look over them in their own sweet time.

Thus sets the story for Raising the Mammoth. And it sounds like a simple enough task, doesn't it? Find a mammoth, dig it out, and haul it back to some semblance of civilization for the aforementioned researchers. But this documentary, and the story of Buigues' adventure, is the epitome of "looked good on paper." This much-touted Discovery Channel special gives the whole story and does a fairly good job of doing so. If there's one thing that gets annoying, it's the occasionally hyperbolic style of narration. No fault of narrator Bridges, but when he says something to the effect of, "They're after the mammoth and they wonder if it knows"--it's pretty damn silly. The mammoth could care less at this point if it was turned into a sofa or not, so to project intelligence onto an animal that's been dead for several thousand years is too much.

As far as the extra features for the DVD, the mammoth fact file is interesting enough and the text of the conversation with Buigues is all right. The best bit by far is the timeline, which contains a myriad array of facts regarding what mammoths used to be considered by ancient cultures along with bits regarding the history of mammoth research.

Fans of the shaggy beasts or armchair paleontologists might do well to snatch this up for a good price, but for most people a rental will do just fine.

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