Picks and Pans Review: Reflections on Elephants

updated 02/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

PBS (Wed., Feb. 9, 8 p.m. ET)

A-

Acclaimed South African filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Jouberl, who have spent the past decade living in the Botswana bush, furnish this elephantine National Geographic Special with visual splendor (including some stunning nighttime footage) and with narration (solemnly intoned by Stacy Keach) that is both enlightening and lyrical.

The film captures the dignity, serenity and majesty of these endangered behemoths as they migrate across northern Botswana, following the annual cycle of available water. In the process, the herds reveal highly evolved patterns of social etiquette, breeding habits, hierarchical politics and death rituals. One scene showing an elephant cradling the tusk of a recently deceased bull looks for all the world like the gravedigger scene in a Shakespeare-in-the-Veld production of Hamlet.

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