I have never seen a movie like ROAR.
Tim League of Drafthouse films has unearthed another gem with Noel Marshall’s ROAR. When I first heard about this back in February, I was totally curious and a little frightened. Lions and tigers are some animals that look rad on the back of a Jean jacket or on a latch hook rug, but I couldn’t even fathom someone handling an animal of that magnitude without a whip and a stun gun. Nothing like that was needed to my knowledge. Noel Marshall “directed” this group of over 100 big cats comprising of Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Panthers, and there may have even been a Liger.
Actually, that’s probably where Ligers came from.
But I digress. Director Noel Marshall was able to successfully herd these mege-kittens by immersing himself in their numbers. Marshal and his then wife Tippi Hedren along with Marshall’s three sons and Hedren’s emerging actress daughter Melanie Griffith (yup) covertly raised these large cats in their Beverly Hills home for six years until they ran out of room and moved to a large ranch north of Los Angeles. There they would continue to care for their ever growing cat family and begin to build the sets in preparation for Marshall’s film “ROAR”.
The shoot was a thing of legend. The tagline: “No animals were harmed in the making of this movie. But 70 crew members were…” …is no bullshit. Luckily no one was killed, but according to accounts there were some very close calls. Cast and crew were injured regularly and Marshall often had a difficult time getting crew members to just come back to the set. Cinematographer Jan de Bont was scalped by a lion and endured over 200 stitches on his head! Melanie Griffith was mauled by a cat on the set and required facial reconstructive surgery plus 100 stitches. But director Noel Marshall was hit so many times that he contracted gangrene.
I could go on like this, but Tim League’s essay on the film is the best source for facts and should definitely be read to appreciate the film. But read it after you watch the movie – I did and now have a much deeper appreciation for the material. There will never be another movie like this EVER. Many people will see this as negligence on the part of the animal’s owner – and there is definitely a valid argument for that, but what I feel that this film shows is the primal excitement of watching a natural predator interacting somewhat successfully with man and just having my mind blown.