born to be wild screen shot.jpg
Prepare for blubbering.
The Dinner: Crispy Fried Spring Rolls and Mongolian Beef at Bamboo Garden (364 Roy St.)

The Movie: Born to be Wild 3D

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Wishing a Lucky Bamboo Garden for Orphaned Baby Elephants and Orangutans

born to be wild screen shot.jpg
Prepare for blubbering.
The Dinner: Crispy Fried Spring Rolls and Mongolian Beef at Bamboo Garden (364 Roy St.)

The Movie: Born to be Wild 3D at the Pacific Science Center IMAX theater (200 Second Ave N.)

The Screenplate: When Morgan Freeman speaks, people want to listen. And from his first lilting words, even the small children in the theater were transfixed. Sure, a six-story movie screen, booming surround sound, and 3D glasses probably had more to do with it than Morgan Freeman, but for the adults, that voice means you're going to see something touching--and likely to expand your world a bit.

Born to be Wild 3D blends the histories of Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick and Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas with the stories of some of their wards. Combined, both women have spent more than 95 years caring for injured and orphaned wildlife, and the film documents current operations of orphanages established by the two women--The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya and Orangutan Foundation International in Borneo.

Without going into the gory details, the movie covers the issues of poaching and rain-forest degradation just enough to plant the seed of the idea that these babies are orphaned by people, not by acts of nature. Keeping it light for the kids, the movie skips back and forth between Kenya and Borneo, documenting the stages of rescue, infant care, bonding, rehabilitation, and ultimate release back to the wild with humor, music, and lots of kid-friendly action (elephants playing a game of soccer and orangutan forest antics).

For adults, the forced positivity of the scenes is perhaps a little more depressing, as the sight of tiny baby elephants and orangutans in pain are ones that tug more than a little at the heartstrings. Children's giggles weren't enough to hide an adult sob or two.

If your experience with 3D has been mostly as a marketing ploy (ahem, Tron: Legacy), this movie will blow you away. Shot in both 70mm and digital Red IMAX 3D film, many of the scenes were also shot with 4k digital IMAX cameras--the first time ever used in a feature film. These scenes, such as one of an orangutan wading toward viewers through a pond of water, the ripples from her movement looking as though they were lapping right up against your own chest, were literally breathtaking.

At only 40 minutes in length and intent on keeping serious conservation topics light for the kids, Born to be Wild 3D is more fluff than substance--but it is gorgeous fluff. Hopefully Freeman's last words of narration, "Whether they'll live happily ever after depends on us," and the power of the images themselves, will inspire moviegoers to do more research into wildlife poaching in Kenya and rain-forest degradation in Indonesia on their own.

Bamboo Garden does not make orphans of animals. As one of Seattle's oldest and best-loved vegetarian/vegan/kosher restaurants, one can enjoy eating pretty much everything here--even if spending 40 minutes sobbing through a movie about wide-eyed orphaned baby animals has left you with little to no appetite.

The Crispy Fried Spring Rolls are just that--crispy, greasy, hot rolls of tastiness. The great thing about these spring rolls is that they are greasy but the stuffings maintain some semblance of freshness, with the cabbage still lending a complementary crunch to the rice paper crust.

#55, Mongolian Beef, features square sponge-like "beef" pieces on a mat of crispy fried bean thread noodles. Both soak up the pungent sweet and spicy sauce, making for an interesting combination of textures. The accompanying slivers of onion, celery, and red and green peppers add an additional crunch and a lively bitterness to cut, just a bit, the sweetness of the sauce. This is a meal that can at least bring a bit of a smile back to a sad face.

For dessert: my video of a newly rescued 11-day old baby elephant at the Sheldrick Trust. Enjoy.

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