Grey Owl ('He Who Walks by Night' in Ojibwa, the tongue of the indigenous people of northern Canada) was an intrepid keeper of the native faith who spoke up for ecological providence and sustainability in the early '30s, simultaneously defending one tradition while establishing another, that of celebrity environmentalism. A trapper turned gamekeeper, he ploughed a lone furrow in the wilderness. Light came late to his life in the form of a part-Mohawk girl 20 years his junior, Anahareo, or Pony. Much of the film is about beavers. Pony rescues and nurtures an orphaned brood, and persuades her lover he has no business hunting them; instead he decides to describe to the world their charms. It's all perfectly literal: the furry critters are presented as self-evidently cute, the love story is entirely wholesome, and the moral all about clean living, in the broadest sense. Archie Grey Owl is played with quiet if unremarkable assurance by Brosnan, while Galipeau - who is part Algonquin - grows into the role of Pony after the rather irritating early stages of their courtship. Sedately middlebrow, sincere and minimally sanctimonious, it's one of the more likeable of Attenborough's 20th century biopics, and it staves off sentimentality at least until the conclusion.
Cast and crew
Pierce Brosnan Annie Galipeau Renée Asherson Stephanie Cole Nathaniel Arcand Stewart Bick Vlasta Vrana Graham Greene