"Love Endures Separation"
What You Need To Know:
DUMA is full of adventure. The movie also builds to a beautiful emotional crescendo. It leaves some plot questions unanswered, however, and doesn’t reveal the moral of the story until the end. Even so, DUMA is a strong family movie extolling love, family and forgiveness. Love endures separation, even death, the movie states clearly at the end. That is the lesson that Xan ultimately learns in his arduous journey. Though there is no foul language in DUMA, it contains a scene with a witchdoctor.
(Pa, BB, H, O, V, M) Mixed, light pagan worldview with strong moral elements extolling love, family and forgiveness, with humanist oriented talk about coping with change, and witchdoctor ministers to sick patient with herbs, incantations and building a death mask around him; no foul language but boy holds cheetah cub over toilet in one comical scene; light violence such as implied lion attacks, bullies threaten and push boy, boy struggles with bullies, cheetah scares schoolchildren, alligators threaten boy and his pets, cheetah eats fallen prey, scenes where boy is scared, boy digs out man from dirt in mine, raft overturns, bugs attack boy and man, boy runs and hides from lions, lions chase cheetah; no sex; upper male nudity; no alcohol, smoking or drugs; and, boy runs away from home, and man talks about leaving his wife and kids.
Warner Bros. Pictures has buried this wildlife drama about a boy and his cheetah, allowing only limited advance screenings and regional releases. Even so, DUMA is a fine family adventure that picks up steam as it rolls along.
The story opens with a pack of lions killing the mother of a newly-born cheetah cub. The cub wanders beyond the fence protecting an African road. A white farmer and his son, Xan (“Zan”), find the cub, almost losing their own lives in the process.
They take the cub home to their farm, where Xan names the cheetah Duma, an African word for cheetah. The father makes Xan promise not to fight him when they have to return the cheetah back to the wild when the animal is grown. The father falls ill, however, and eventually dies. Xan’s mother has to lease their farm and live in the city with Xan’s aunt. A man from a wildlife preserve will come to take Duma away.
When Xan’s mother goes to pick up Xan from school, Duma follows her. Duma scares the children and teachers at the school, and the police are sent. Xan finds Duma first, however, and, taking his father’s motorcycle and sidecar, he and Xan set off across the desert to take Duma home. In the desert, they encounter Ripkuna, an African who left his family to make it big in the city, only to fall into a life of crime. Xan doesn’t fully trust Ripkuna, however, even when Ripkuna helps him out of a couple jams. Eventually, however, Ripkuna proves his trust and the time grows near when Xan and Duma must part.
Family bonds and the bonds between a father and his child are the implicit theme throughout this movie. This theme is made explicit at the end of the movie when Xan provides a poetic epilogue as he and Duma finally part ways. Xan learns that the death of his father and the separation between he and Duma can be overcome by the love that endures between them.
DUMA is full of adventure. The movie also builds to a beautiful emotional crescendo. It leaves some questions open, however, like how Xan’s family feeds the cheetah. And, why didn’t Xan bring more water when he left the city with Duma? Also, the movie’s morally uplifting themes could be stated more clearly in the rest of the story rather than just at the end.
DUMA is a strong family movie, but its worldview is mixed. There is talk about death and coping with death, and talk about the changes that life inevitably brings, but no mention is made of an afterlife or man’s relationship to God, though Ripkuna thanks God fervently when Xan helps him out of a scrape. There is also a scene where a witchdoctor applies herbal medicine and incantations to a sick patient, who recovers.
Finally, DUMA is completely devoid of any foul language and sexual innuendo, and the violence is minor. Thus, all in all, it’s a good movie to bring practically the whole family to see. Too bad the studio didn’t have enough faith in it to promote it properly to family audiences.