Virunga (2014)

Virunga (2014)
  • 9926
  • Not Rated
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release year: 2014 ()
  • Running time: 100 min
  • Original Title: Virunga
  • Voted: 9926

In the forested depths of eastern Congo lies Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world and home to the last of the mountain gorillas. In this wild, but enchanted environment, a small and embattled team of park rangers - including an ex-child soldier turned ranger, a carer of orphan gorillas and a Belgian conservationist - protect this UNESCO world heritage site from armed militia, poachers and the dark forces struggling to control Congo's rich natural resources. When the newly formed M23 rebel group declares war in May 2012, a new conflict threatens the lives and stability of everyone and everything they've worked so hard to protect.

  • Why would anyone rate this under 10/10??! by 10

    One of the most incredible moving important documentaries I've ever seen, if you have Netflix and haven't watched this, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? No, stop watching that other show (again!), and put on Virunga dang it!

    If I ever won the lottery, I would entrust Andre with a significant donation, his mission and attitude is as pure as they come. Same for the amazing investigative journalist Melanie - the best kinda people.

    This is my first review in years, because I feel so passionately about this film.

  • Too sloppy and sentimental. by 6

    Netflix seems to be reliably getting their documentaries nominated for Oscars as of late, and with its intriguing topic Virunga looked like a film with a lot of potential. It starts off great, really passionate and gripping about the injustices in its titular location. Then it moves onto something else, then something else, and more, and it keeps going until the connection between all these things feel all the more tenuous. That's the crux of Virunga, the direction lacks any form of restraint. It has the passion and it is interesting, but it too often opts for the most sentimental choice and it comes off as utterly contrived. All of its excitement feels so perfectly timed and formed that it comes off as orchestrated. To its credit, it is beautifully shot, though it often feels like an extract of Planet Earth rather than having its own identity. Not to belittle its cause, Virunga needed more time in the editing room to feel less cheap and sloppy.


  • Good but somewhat naive and misinformed by 7

    Virunga does a good job of showing the grave difficulties facing conservationists in Africa. Virunga is about a park in the Congo, but the situation is similar in many African countries. War breaks out frequently, violence is commonplace, corruption is rampant. Perhaps even more serious, many people have an economic incentive to plunder the national parks. Many people live in extreme poverty, so poaching wild animals is not merely a good business deal, it may be the difference between starving and surviving. The same is true of exploiting the minerals in the park. Virunga lays out all that in an unflinching way.

    Where I fault Virunga is that it somewhat makes a muddle of things, confusing various issues, and it has an unrealistic view of what is going on. An example of the first problem is that Virunga gives the impression that the mineral companies are the root of all evil. They are not. They don't poach elephants, for example. That's a different issue. An example of the second problem is that Virunga gives the impression that the mineral companies are the reason there is corruption. In fact, corruption is rampant throughout Africa and indeed much of the rest of the world (try to get your ferry ticket stamped in Greece without paying the clerk a bribe, for example). If Africa had no minerals, it still would be rife with corruption.

    Despite the flaws, Virunga is a very good movie, well worth watching.

  • critical by 7

    Starting with an introduction to the history of turmoils in Congo this documentary tells the dramatic story of those who are trying to exploit and suck out everything from the country focusing on the Virunga National Park. The undercover footages are much more theatrical than shown in films since we know these are real and the kind of dialogues we hear in movies which we think as an exaggeration for dramatics seem to be much short of what the real villains are capable to churn out.

  • Imperfect documentary - but please let it help save the land and animals! by 7

    Virunga is a well intentioned documentary that will hopefully garner attention for the clashes occurring in the Congo.

    The Oscar nominated documentary Virunga explores the conflict for natural resources in the Central African country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the unintended but deadly consequences for the UNESCO-designated Virunga National Park, a World Heritage Site, caught in the middle of the skirmish.

    The documentary, directed and written by Orlando von Einsiedel, says Virunga is about the brave individuals that act as an army to protect the Virunga National Park from poachers. In reality, the film not only explores the protection efforts of the mountain gorillas but the harmful effects of civil unrest on the DRC. Along with journalist Melanie Gouby, von Einsiedel's Virunga goes undercover to reveal the negligent motives of British oil company SOCO International.

    As a documentary, Virunga is interesting, eye-opening and concerning but not necessarily novel nor especially comprehensive. The information relayed to audiences is not from experts or top players in the controversy of the park, wild life or even political landscape. Instead, most of the information highlighted and showcased are simply from first hand experiences as the civil war reignites and from a few key figures who are employed by the Virunga National Park.

    Virunga is well intentioned but ultimately slightly faulted documentary. It is informative, but not substantially so. There are plenty of filler shots of babies crying and the beauty of the African landscape but these scenes add no significance. Virunga ends up feeling like a History Channel or National Geographic special – not a bad thing, but not the same caliber as a feature documentary film.

    The lack of hindsight and conclusion of the civil siege in the Democratic Republic of the Congo makes for an unstructured film where it appears that the filmmakers were learning the story as they went – leading to a lack of vision and inability to edit the film into a cohesive non-fiction narrative.

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