Robert Flaherty and Zoltán Korda shared best director honors at the Venice Film Festival for collaborating on this charming translation of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book story “Toomai of the Elephants.” A harmonious mix of the two filmmakers’ styles—Flaherty’s adeptness at ethnographic documentary meeting Korda’s taste for grand adventure—Elephant Boy also served as the breakthrough showcase for the thirteen-year-old Sabu, whose beaming performance as a young mahout leading the British on an expedition made him a major international star. –The Criterion Collection
Robert Joseph Flaherty (16 February 1884, Iron Mountain, Michigan – 23 July 1951, Dummerston, Vermont) was an American filmmaker who directed and produced the first commercially successful feature length documentary film, Nanook of the North (1922), made his reputation, and nothing in his later life equalled its success, although he continued the development of this new genre of docufiction, eg. with Moana (1926), set in the South Seas.
He is a progenitor of ethnographic film. Jean Rouch and John Collier Jr. would practice and theorize the genre as visual anthropology, a subfield of anthropology, in the 1960s.
Flaherty was married to writer Frances H. Flaherty from 1914 until his death in 1951. Frances worked on several of her husband’s films, and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Story for Louisiana Story (1948).
Flaherty was one of seven children born to prospector Robert Henry Flaherty (an Irish Protestant) and Susan Klockner (a German Roman… read more
The brother of producer/director Alexander Korda, Zoltan Korda achieved recognition in his own right as a director of action films, first in England and later in Hollywood. He was the second of three sons, born Zoltan Kellner in 1895 in Túrkeve, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The death of their father threw the Kellner family into personal and financial chaos, and Zoltan and his younger brother, Vincent (later a top art director), along with their mother, were forced to live in the home of their paternal grandfather, a cruel and ignorant man whose influence prevented either boy from realizing anything like his potential for years after. Meanwhile, older sibling Sandor Kellner, taking a new, less ethnic last name, established himself as a writer and journalist, and finally a filmmaker as Alexander Korda.
Zoltan served in the cavalry during the First World War, experience that he put to good use as a filmmaker in the decades that followed. He followed Alexander… read more
Korda production with Zoltan handling the studio/location work with jungle imagery by Robert Flaherty interspersed. It's an interesting mix, especially the hordes of elephants Flaherty photographs, and 11-year-old Sabu, in his first movie, is charming and effective as the mascot of the colonialist hunting story.