Robyn Billey’s documentary focuses on the Rosaire family, the one-time leaders in British and American circus productions. Today, the Florida-based family finds itself alone in a dying sector of the entertainment world.
Focusing solely on animal acts, the Rosaires bring their collection of lions, tigers, bears and chimpanzees to small-time gigs at traveling carnivals and fairs – a far cry from their halcyon days when their audiences included of European royalty. And when gigs are not available, the family members have no problems assuming part-time jobs in construction or trucking.
To their credit, the Rosaires have gone out of their way (and deep into their wallets) to serve as a private rescue organization for wild animals that were abandoned after failed attempts at domestication – and their food bills alone keep the Rosaires from living like royalty. It is clear that every family member and their devoted employees love the animals in their care.
Yet it is difficult to watch their acts – most notably a muzzled bear jumping over small hurdles and a dismal comedy routine involving chimps dressed in comic human clothing – without realizing that the Rosaires have lost connection with modern concepts of entertainment.
Billey, who shot the film over five years, wound up with two discs worth of material for this DVD release. A second disc is devoted to bonus features, including a full one-hour circus performance, which accentuates the notion of providing too much of a bad thing.