chapter  12
14 Pages

Independent nature: wildlife films between Hollywood and indiewood

ByClaire Molloy

Wildlife films have an important place in American cinema history although they were largely overlooked by film scholars until the 2000s. So much so that Derek Bousé (2000) refers to their history as a ‘neglected tradition’ and Cynthia Chris (2006) remarks on their absence from general film histories (Chris 2006: xvi). Bousé goes on to suggest that this disregard has been due to a lack of agreement amongst film scholars and even within the industry about what a wildlife film is, has been, or, indeed, should be (Bousé 2000: 38). Despite contentions that it does not constitute a legitimate genre, by the mid-twentieth century the term ‘wildlife film’ had entered into common usage, which leads Bousé to argue that, ‘the phenomenon itself, by whatever name, had emerged as a coherent and distinctive type of film with its own rules, codes and conventions’ (Bousé 2000: 37). That this codification should occur in the 1950s is significant. It corresponds with the successful theatrical releases of Disney’s True-Life Adventures between 1948 and 1960 and the films’ inclusion, both whole and in part, in the weekly one-hour Disneyland television series, produced between 1954 and 1958 for ABC.