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Based on the book of the same name My Family and Other Animals, written by Gerald Durrell and published in 1956, is an impressive production chronicles the author’s childhood experiences on the Greek island of Corfu. The island’s abundance of animals fueled young Gerry’s fascination with wildlife; today he is one of the world’s best-known naturalists.
Durrell’s family moved from England to Corfu in 1935, when he was 10. The entourage consisted of Mrs. Durrell (a widow) and her four children, including the 23-year-old Lawrence (who later became a celebrated novelist).
As the title suggests, the family was a menagerie of sorts itself, slightly off-kilter and eccentric. Lawrence (Anthony Calf) is portrayed as brooding and moody; his brother Leslie (Guy Scantlebury) spent most of his time shooting at anything that moved; sister Margo (Sarah-Jane Holm) was given to falling in and out of love. Gerry (Darren Redmayne), meanwhile, was mostly oblivious to what took place inside the three villas the family occupied in succession while on Corfu, having preferred instead the contented solitude he found while observing nature. Redmayne conveys Gerry’s sense of joy and excitement upon each new discovery with wide-eyed, innocent — and genuine — wonder.
Although the film, produced by the BBC and A&E, lasts nearly four hours, it never feels that long. The combination of lilting music, lush scenery, and uniformly distinguished acting gives this enchanting adventure an irresistible quality that makes it seem all too brief. A