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Films on Grey Owl

Seven silent films were made between 1928 and 1938 featuring the extraordinary Englishman, Archie Belaney, also known as Grey Owl. Belaney, who claimed to be of Aboriginal descent, became famous as a pioneer environmentalist, especially in Britain. These films on Grey Owl dealt with wildlife and conservation and emphasized living harmoniously with nature. They were all (except the last two listed below) photographed and directed by Bill Oliver for National Parks of Canada. Because of wide public interest in Grey Owl, three of Oliver's films were later adapted into sound versions under Gordon Sparling's direction, and released in 1932 and 1934 in the Canadian Cameo series. They are more anthropomorphic in the manner of Walt Disney nature films than Oliver's originals, generally ignoring the conservation themes and tending to portray the animals as cute and cuddly.

Dates and directors are given in parentheses in the following list: The Beaver People (1928, Bill Oliver); The Beaver Family (1929, Bill Oliver); Grey Owl's Little Brother (1932, Gordon Sparling, adapted from The Beaver People and The Beaver Family); Strange Doings in Beaverland (1932, Bill Oliver); Grey Owl's Neighbours (1934, Bill Oliver); Grey Owl's Strange Guests (1934, Gordon Sparling, adapted from Strange Doings in Beaverland); Pilgrims of the Wild (1935, Bill Oliver); The Trail — Men Against the Snow (1937, Grey Owl); The Trail — Men Against the River, (1937, Grey Owl).

The British feature film Grey Owl (1999), directed by Richard Attenborough, is a fictionalized biography of Archie Belaney (played by Pierce Brosnan) that was, perhaps inevitably, criticized for its loose interpretation of the facts of his life, but proved popular in its video release.