Grey Owl (film)

Grey Owl is a 1999 biopic directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Pierce Brosnan in the role of real life British schoolboy turned Indian 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. This film was released on September 10, 1999 by Columbia TriStar Pictures, while 20th Century Fox released in United Kingdom and Universal Pictures released in the rest of the world internationally. A video premiere released on February 15, 2000.

Grey Owl
Directed byRichard Attenborough
Produced byRichard Attenborough
Jake Eberts
Claude Léger
Written byWilliam Nicholson
Music byGeorge Fenton
CinematographyRoger Pratt
Edited byLesley Walker
Largo Entertainment
JVC Entertainment
Beaver Productions
Ajawaan Productions
Distributed byColumbia TriStar Home Video
Release date
  • 15 February 2000 (2000-02-15)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$30 million
Box office$632,617[1]

It was also the last film with Largo Entertainment when it defuncted in 1999.


Archibald Belaney (Brosnan) was a British man who grew up fascinated with Native American culture—so much so that in the early 1900s he left the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for Canada, where he reinvented himself as Archie Grey Owl and pretended to be a North American Indian who was a trapper. 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.


The film was met with negative reviews, and has a 'rotten' 17% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[3] William Gallagher of the BBC said, "if you like cuddly animals or you fancy Pierce Brosnan, you're in luck".[4]

The film won one Genie Award at the 20th Genie Awards, in the category of Best Costume Design for Renée April.[5]

Grey Owl flopped at the box office upon its limited release, grossing $632,617 domestically against its $30 million budget.


  1. "Grey Owl". Box Office Mojo.
  2. Country Life: Volume 194, 2000
  3. "Grey Owl". Rotten Tomatoes.
  4. BBC - Films - review - Grey Owl
  5. Playback Staff (23 July 2001). "Costumes: from tripe to chain mail". Playback. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
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