According to the legend of the Shangaan people, white lions are the messengers of the gods and the presence of one means peace and prosperity for all in the valley. But white lions have now been a thing of legend for so long that most have forgotten their existence already, which is exactly why a young Shangaan named Gisani, son of the tribe’s witch doctor, can scarcely believe his luck when his path crosses with that of a white lion cub named Letsatsi.

Gisani appoints himself watcher and guardian for the little cub and Letsatsi sets out in the world in order to find his own way – but that way is often fraught with danger, the worst of all being the sought after prize of the most dangerous predator of them all…


The locally produced White Lion comes to us from director Michael Swan and after seeing it with Chantelle a week or two ago at the cinema, I can’t fully understand why they took the gamble to release this film as a feature film at the movie houses. Yes, there are some beautiful environment shots and a lot of brilliant wildlife videography, all tied together with some very clever editing that puts a lot of animals into a particular scene even though it is quite apparent that this would most likely not have been the case in real life, but as a film the story just feels incredibly weak and plods along with seemingly little to tell other than the daily life of a white lion, interspersed with some human to human interactions, of which there is very little until right at the end where everything comes to a rapid head and then ends with a rather well, silly and unfinished ending.

Don’t get me wrong though because White Lion is certainly not a badly made film. The actors all work fairly well given the small screen time that they receive and there are some wonderful quirky musical compositions to be had throughout the film Similarly, the lions and other creatures that are used throughout are brilliantly trained and captured and as a whole, everyone seems to do their job pretty competently.

But like I said, this just doesn’t seem like a big screen movie and plods along, dragging its heels for what seems like ages and really bores you when you run out of popcorn, which is not a position any feature film ever wants to be in. Rather, I can’t help but feel that this is a perfect little title to sell to Wildlife or National Geographic, and will do quite fine on SABC’s homegrown showings.

In summary, if you are looking to be entertained, look further than White Lion because it quite simply isn’t going to do the job, not unless you really, really love lions and their particularly cute pups, or you have a young daughter who simply can’t get enough of big cats.

Zebra. Yummy. Now go away, I'm eating. Nom nom nom

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