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Water For Elephants and Ohio Wildlife Massacre



Not too long ago in Zanesville, Ohio, dozens of exotic animals, more like the kind on display in an old fashioned traveling circus, were set free by a deranged owner. 

The resulting terror caused police authorities to kill most of the wild beasts in one of the most bizarre big game hunts ever held in the United States. Over 50 exotic animals were victims of a massacre, though they were as innocent as lambs.

Lions, tigers, bears, and other unusual critters were owned by Terry Thompson, a belligerent and troubled man who chose to open the cages before he committed suicide.

After seeing the DVD movie version of Water For Elephants, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, in a story about a traveling circus in 1931 that met a horrific end, we realized that Mr. Thompson likely watched this film sometime in the weeks before he made his bizarre decision to set the animals loose upon an unsuspecting and otherwise innocent public.

That concept was the climactic lynchpin of director Francis Lawrence’s movie. The final villainous act is a wild unleashing of exotic animals on an innocent town, while attending a circus performance.

Once again, it appeared that life imitated art. Based on Sara Gruen’s well-respected novel, Lawrence has created a magical depiction of Depression era America, the era of the circus in small-town life, and odd personalities in the melting pot.

The missing animal out of Thompson’s exotic menagerie was an elephant that is the plot saving hero of the Lawrence movie. Rosey (played by Tai) is an old elephant thought dumber than most other elephants. Some things just don’t translate well in America.

Rosey is a delight as Deus ex machina or even as Dumbo. Rosey is “Rozowy” in Polish, which makes her a pink elephant with a heart of gold.

The film has a patina of lush photography and classic performances, not the least of which is Christoph Waltz as the Thompson-like ringmaster of a three-ring circus.

Audiences would be remiss if they merely sampled Water for Elephants because it may have inspired a madman to act out the movie action. 

This film is a rare example, in an age of explosions and superhero powers, of human drama and human interaction with all creatures, great and greater. It may not be the greatest show on earth, but it will do.



William Russo's newest book is now out, ready for your tablet, your smartphone, your Kindle or Nook. Read RED SOX 2011: A WHIMSICAL AUTOPSY to find a month-by-month examination of the team, showing all the signs of trouble that most sports media missed. His other sports books are SEX, DRUGS, SPORTS & WHIMSY and RAJON RONDO: SUPERSTAR! Russo's movie books include RIDING JAMES KIRKWOOD'S PONY, THE NEXT JAMES DEAN, and AUDIE MURPHY, VIETNAM, & THE MAKING OF THE QUIET AMERICAN. 



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