PASATIEMPO: Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson’s Ode to the African Elephant

The Plight of the Pachyderms: Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson’s ode to the African Elephant

Article printed in the Pasatiempo on April 19, 2019

Walking Thunder: Ode to the African Elephant screens at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 21, as part of the Taos Environmental Film Festival.

“My first steps, my first words, my first memories were all made in Africa. It’s part of who I am,” twelve-year-old Lysander Christo says in the opening scenes of Walking Thunder: Ode to the African Elephant, a 2018 documentary film made by his parents, Santa Fe residents Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson.

Christo and Wilkinson have been documenting the relationship between humans and the natural world since the late 1990s, often focusing on Africa. The pair talk over one another and tend to finish one another’s sentences; they don’t always agree but seem to always be in sync, with the same ultimate goals. They are the authors of Lost Africa: The Eyes of Origin (2004), Walking Thunder: In the Footsteps of the African Elephant (2009), and In Predatory Light: Lions and Tigers and Polar Bears (2013). They shot much of the footage for Walking Thunder, their first full-length film, between 2012 and 2015. In determining the documentary’s narrative structure, Wilkinson said, they “found a parallel with the development of a child: the awe and wonder phase, when everything is exciting and new; to the next phase of caring; to the next phase of concern and activism.”



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