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Grey Owl (film)

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Grey Owl
Directed byRichard Attenborough
Written byWilliam Nicholson
Produced byRichard Attenborough
Jake Eberts
Claude Léger
CinematographyRoger Pratt
Edited byLesley Walker
Music byGeorge Fenton
Distributed by20th Century Fox (United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany)
Remstar Distribution (Canada)
New City Releasing (United States)
Release dates
  • 10 September 1999 (1999-09-10) (Spain)
  • 1 October 1999 (1999-10-01) (Canada)
  • 3 November 2000 (2000-11-03) (UK)
Running time
117 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget$30 million[1]
Box office$632,617[1]

Grey Owl is a 1999 biopic directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Pierce Brosnan in the role of real-life British schoolboy turned Native American trapper "Grey Owl", Archibald Belaney (1888–1938), and Annie Galipeau as his wife Anahareo, with brief appearances by Graham Greene and others. The screenplay was written by William Nicholson. The film was released on 10 September 1999 in Spain and 15 February 2000 in US. It was the last film made by Largo Entertainment before it went defunct in 1999.


Archibald Belaney (Brosnan) from Britain grows up fascinated with Native American culture—so much so that in the early 1900s, he leaves the United Kingdom for Canada, where he reinvents himself as trapper Archie Grey Owl and pretends to be a First Nations native. Eventually, Belaney becomes an environmentalist after renouncing trapping and hunting.



The film was shot in the English town of Hastings, Quebec towns Chelsea and Wakefield, Jacques Cartier Park and Saskatchewan's Prince Albert National Park.

Director Richard Attenborough said in an interview that he and his brother, noted presenter and naturalist David Attenborough, had attended "Grey Owl's" De Montfort Hall, Leicester lecture in 1936, depicted in the film, and been influenced by his advocacy of conservation.[2] The musical group Northern Cree Singers is featured in the soundtrack.

Canadian naturalist and canoe tripper Hap Wilson taught Pierce Brosnan how to throw an axe and paddle a canoe for his role.[3]


The film opened 1 October 1999 on 70 screens in Canada.[4][1]

The film premiered on video in the United States on 15 February 2000. It eventually opened on 3 November 2000 in the United Kingdom.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

The film was met with negative reviews. It has a 17% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on 12 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6/10.[6] William Gallagher of the BBC said, "if you like cuddly animals or you fancy Pierce Brosnan, you're in luck".[5]

The film won one Genie Award at the 20th Genie Awards, in the category of Best Costume Design for Renée April.[7]

Box office[edit]

Grey Owl flopped at the box office upon its limited release grossing $162,360 in its opening weekend in Canada and a total of $632,617 against its $30 million budget.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Grey Owl". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ Country Life: Volume 194, 2000
  3. ^ "About us".
  4. ^ Klady, Leonard (4 October 1999). "'Double' decks 'Kings' at B.O.". Daily Variety. p. 1.
  5. ^ a b "Grey Owl (2000)". BBC. 31 October 2000.
  6. ^ "Grey Owl". Rotten Tomatoes.
  7. ^ Playback Staff (23 July 2001). "Costumes: from tripe to chain mail". Playback. Retrieved 24 March 2017.

External links[edit]