(Adapted from the book, How it Was With Dooms, by Carol and Xan Hopcraft) A welcome departure from the predictable boy-and-his-dog story, “Duma” is a wonderful, picturesque, exciting story about a boy and his cheetah. The story is a real adventure set in the unpredictable, intimidating desert of South Africa. Survival skills prove vital for Xan and his unexpected and unwelcome companion, a native named Ripkuna.
The story moves slowly and is a bit stilted in the beginning, but soon it transforms into a real nail-biter. The cinematography is breathtaking, and the direction and editing are skillfully executed. Director Carroll Ballard is experienced at warm-hearted movies like “Duma.” He directed two other classic movies depicting young people and their beloved pets – “The Black Stallion” (1979) and “Fly Away Home” (1996). I asked myself how it was that Alex seemed so comfortable with the cheetah; it turns out that he was born and raised on a wild animal preserve in South Africa.