Tiger 24: Beauty in the Beast

In the new documentary,?Tiger 24, tells the story of T24, a tiger who kills several men after they step into his territory, causing an understandable uproar in the local??community. Dubbed a ?man-eater?, the beast is immediately removed from its wildlife preserve and held in captivity. However, T24?s capture causes social upheaval as activists take up his cause, fighting for his freedom.

Directed by Warren Pereira, Tiger 24 is an intriguing documentary that blends styles in such a way as to create something entirely new. Framing itself as a true crime documentary, Tiger structures itself in such a way that one cannot help but engage in the story. Unlike other animal rights documentaries, this film wants the viewer to engage in the complex nature of the issue, as opposed to outright sympathy. 

That?s not to say that Pereira has no love for T24?s situation. By highlighting the trauma and tragedy that it endures at the hands of its human neighbours, Pereira absolutely empathizes with his stunning creature. With the amount of time that he had spent studying his subject prior to his incarceration, the film reveals the deep respect between man and animal and the ?relationship? that develops between them. Amazingly, Pereira manages to build a certain level of trust with the beast that allows him to get dangerously close to this potential man-eater, with nothing but grass between him.

But the results are apparent onscreen. There is a certain sense of awe about the film the permeates the storytelling. Through his incredible footage, Pereira gives T24 a personality, celebrating his role in the family and skills as a father. (In fact, in one particular scene, Pereira even speaks of T24?s wife?s new mate as a form of betrayal against him.) 

At the same time though, Tiger 24 also recognizes the complex relationship between the natural world and the families that live in proximity to it. While there is a little doubt that T24 is a creature worth preserving for its beauty and ferocity, it also remains a threat to those in the nearby residential areas. After all, for those of us who like to visit wildlife in zoos, there is always a safe distance that exists between us. Yet, for these men, women and children who want to go about their daily routines, there?s always a  certain level of terror that exists that those of us in the West simply cannot understand. As stunning a creature as T24 may be, he is also a danger to the families that live below. 

What Tiger 24 does so effectively though is identify the complexity of this relationship between man and nature, without ever downplaying the importance of either. This is a film that quickly becomes a whodunit by treating this tiger king as somewhat of an unusual suspect. Questions of culpability arise, creating an unusual tension for this type of story. (After all, how can you really blame a tiger for? being a tiger? How do you hold an animal accountable for leaning into its basest of instincts?) Throughout the course of the film, we come to love T24 and hope for both his survival and his return home. At the same time, we also recognize that there are other issues at play and other people who may be at risk. In this way, Tiger 24 highlights the beauty of the beast without absolving it of responsibility. 

This tension makes Tiger 24 somewhat of an unusual animal feature but, it?s unpredictable nature also elevates it above other examples of the genre. Though the film is a compelling ?crime? narrative that speaks to the needs of local families, one cannot help but fall in love with T24?s raw power and stunning features. And this is undoubtedly intentional. Because, for Pereira, the most important thing to remember is that there is beauty within the beast.

Tiger 24 is now available on VOD.

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