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Save the Rhino is a Kuboian traditionally animated drama film produced by Scopescreen Media. The film centres around Xya, a nine year-old boy, who tries to save a rhino who is getting mistreated by a circus owner, whilst also avoiding his emotionally and physically abusive foster carer.

Save the Rhino was released in Kuboian cinemas on 13th September, 2002, and was awarded a R9 rating by the Leisure Rating Association. The film was later released elsewhere in 2003. The film received positive reviews from critics, and grossed €440 million on a €20 million budget, making it currently the highest-grossing Kuboian film of all time.

Plot

Xya, a nine year-old boy, lives with his eight year-old sister, Amanda, and their widowed father, Harold, who works as a human resource manager for an oil company. When Harold has to travel abroad, both Amanda and Xya are sent to live with their maternal uncle, Henry. Eventually, Harold finds out he has to stay abroad for longer than expected, and Henry has trouble looking after both children, so Freda, a woman with a fake foster carer contract, says she will look after Xya. When told about this, Harold reluctantly agrees to it.

However, Freda shows her true colours to Xya when she starts to mentally and physically abuse him. A week later, Freda gets a call from Henry stating that the family are having a day out together, and says he wants Xya to come along. Although Freda tries to oppose the idea, she eventually reluctantly agrees to allow it, but threatens to toture Xya if he tells anybody about the way she treats him.

Whilst spending time with his sister, Xya notices an animal circus, but notices all the animals seem unhappy. Sneaking backstage, he and Amanda discover that the animals are all capable of speech, but they are prohibited from speaking publicly from the circus's owner, who emotionally abuses them. The two show their faces to the animals, who all introduce themselves. Amanda and Xya particularly become fond of a baby rhino called Winter, who shares the same name with their deceased mother. Once they leave, Xya tells Amanda not to tell anybody about the animals, as it could get them in trouble.

A few days later, Amanda sneaks back to the circus, and manages to free Winter, as well as her friends Manica the monkey, Trumpet the elephant and Sigel the parrot, and tries to find a safe place for them. Meanwhile, Xya, fed up with the way Freda treats him, sneaks outside late that night, and coincidentally bumps into Amanda and company. Although Xya tries to hide it, the group can tell he is really upset about something. A terrified and weeping Xya then explains how much abuse he gets from Freda. Amanda then encourages Xya to stay with them for the time being. Elsewhere, Marvin and Henry all call the police when they discover the ones they look after are missing, whilst Freda goes out to look for Xya on her own.

When Amanda and Xya go to collect food for the animals, they bump into Freda, who realises that Amanda knows all about how much she abuses Xya. Freda chases after the two, but loses them when Amanda tricks her into going the wrong way. They retreat back to the shelter the animals are at, but they are eventually found by Henry and the police, who is happy to know that they are safe. Marvin and Freda also arrive at the scene, but when Freda begins to emotionally abuse Xya in front of everybody, she promptly gets arrested by the police. Marvin, having realised how depressed and insecure Xya has became from abuse, has a change of heart.

The following day, Harold, having realised what has happened, decides to quit his job, and swiftly returns to take care of Amanda and Xya again. With Marvin having turned a new leaf, Winter and company become high-profile circus performers and regularly spend time playing with Amanda and Xya.

Other plot elements

  • At one point in the film, Xya sneaks onto Freda's computer and looks at her computerised diary. Supposedly, before the events of the film, she had adopted a ten year-old and two year-old child - the diary implies she killed the two year-old, believing it to be no use for her, and the ten year-old snuck out of her house one day, went missing, and was never found.
  • It is implied that Marvin only abuses Winter and the other animals because he suffered domestic abuse and loneliness during his childhood, and believes that being cruel to the, is the only form of discipline.
  • It is never revealed how Amanda and Xya's mother died, though some fans of the film speculate that she drowned in a river, based on Henry's reactions in one scene.

Cast

Main article: List of Save the Rhino characters

Main characters

  • TBA as Xya
  • TBA as Amanda, Xya's little sister.
  • TBA as Harold, Xya's widowed father, who works as a human resource manager. He appears to get mistreated by his colleagues.
  • TBA as Henry, Amanda and Xya's maternal uncle.
  • TBA as Freda, Xya's abusive foster carer, who uses a fake contract.
  • TBA as Marvin, a circus owner who abuses his animals.
  • TBA as Winter, a child rhino.

Minor characters

  • TBA as Trumpet, a child elephant.
  • TBA as Manica, a monkey.
  • TBA as Sigel, a parrot.
  • TBA as an unnamed police officer.

Production

Development on Save the Rhino began in 1995. The animation process began in late 1997, and was completed in June 2001. Finally, several recording sessions for the film took place from September 2001 to January 2002.

Release

Save the Rhino was released in Kuboia on 13th September, 2002, and was later released throughout Europe in late 2002 and early 2003. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 14th March, 2003, which was followed by the United States release on 22nd August, 2003 - in both regions, the film received a PG rating.

Reception

Critical reception

Save the Rhino received mostly positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 77% rating approval based on 86 reviews, with an average score of 8.0 out of 10. On Metacritic, the film has a normalised rating of 73 based on 55 reviews.

Nominations and awards

Year Award Result
2003 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Film of the Year (National Film Awards) Won

Future

A follow-up to the film, Winter's Wacky World, entered development in 2004. According to Evan Ridley, the sequel was going to be more lighthearted than the original film, and would focus more on Winter and her friends, with Amanda and Xya being reduced to side characters.

Although it was scheduled for a 2008 release, the film was cancelled when the screenwriters were dissatisfied with the script, one saying "Even if we did finish Winter's Wacky World, it would have been panned by both fans and critics."

From 2012 to 2013, some of the film's characters appeared in television advertisements for National Animal Welfare Trust.

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