Elephant Boy (1937)

Elephant Boy (1937)

“You find a score of elephants dancing, and lead me to them — I’ll make a hunter of you!”

A young elephant handler (Sabu) and his father (W.E. Holloway) are invited by a British overseer (Walter Hudd) to join an expedition hunting for wild elephants. When his father is killed by a tiger, the orphaned Sabu worries about his feisty elephant’s fate, and attempts to escape with him.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Coming of Age
  • India
  • Jungles
  • Robert Flaherty Films
  • Sabu Films
  • Zoltan Korda Films

Co-directed by Zoltan Korda and documentarian Robert Flaherty, this adaptation of a chapter from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is primarily known as the screen debut of Sabu Dastagir, the real-life son of a mahout (elephant rider). The film contains ample interesting footage of elephants, and Sabu has plenty of natural charm (though he gave much better performances once he gained a little acting experience and fluency with English) — but there’s little else to recommend in the story itself. The colonial drive to tame wild elephants and put them to work will likely bring nothing but distaste to most modern viewers, especially given our emergent understanding of how much freedom and movement elephants really need to live satisfying lives. This historic curio is ultimately only must-see for Sabu fans.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine dramatic footage of elephants

Must See?
No; this one is simply a curiosity for fans of Sabu.


One thought on “Elephant Boy (1937)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    This slight tale feels very much a product of its time – and seems to have not aged all that well.

    We do see a lot of elephants walking. When walking, elephants tend to move very slowly. Kind of like this film.

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