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Grey Owl
cast: Pierce Brosnan, Annie Galipeau

director: Richard Attenborough

113 minutes (PG) 2000
20th Century Fox
VHS retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Donald Morefield
Canada 1934. As a writer, Archie 'Grey Owl' is supposed to be the "authentic voice of the wilderness" in his autobiographical book, on the cultural lecture circuit, and in his change of heart from amoral trapper to ethical conservationist spotlights his crusade for eco-awareness.
   Based on a true story, this adventure drama directed by Richard Attenborough is about a man ahead of his time. In the title role, Brosnan makes the most of this departure from 007 action thrills, yet there's a similar sense of loneliness and brittle sentiment to his playing of wannabe iconic Ojibwa Indian, Grey Owl. Although he unbends to educate town-raised Mohawk girl Pony (Galipeau) in the traditional ways of her people, the irony of their relationship - well, I won't give away the film's plot twist - remains stiffly formal, and is telegraphed early on by the narrative's flashback structure.
   Dances With Wolves was certainly more intense as wild western period drama but, as an examination of the headlong collision between untamed redskins and domesticated whites, this offers considerably more depth of reflective sensitivity in its prominently delineated culture clash issues. And, in the rather unnecessary coda, it reiterates many of the environmental lessons concerning our planet that are still being learned the hard way, today.