Independent nature: wildlife ﬁlms between Hollywood and indiewood
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.