Meghan Markle’s New Disney Movie ‘Elephant’ Is A Perfect Fit For The Whole Family

Meghan Markle makes a triumphant, royal return to the world of entertainment in the new Disney nature documentary, “Elephant.” 

The film, which premieres Friday on Disney Plus, is perfect for the whole family. It transports viewers to Africa, where we meet a herd of elephants on their monthslong journey to find water.

While the focus is on one herd, three main characters (also the only three elephants with names) take center stage: Gaia, the 50-year-old matriarch, her sister Shani, who is 40, and Shani’s adorable 1-year-old son, Jomo.  

During the documentary’s 86-minute run time (with plenty of cute bloopers and moments at the end), the film makes it almost possible to forget the state of the world around us.

It’s fun to see Jomo, the youngest elephant of the crew, splashing and wriggling around in the mud, chasing warthogs and climbing on other members of his herd when he gets a little too excited during a “pool party.” The cinematography is stunning, and the score ― because this is Disney, after all ― feels magical. 

As the elephants traverse hundreds of miles of desert to get to their eventual destination, the Zambezi River, fun and humorous instances (like one elephant passing gas) are mixed in with tough, emotional moments that warrant some tears.


Meghan’s animated, engaging narration complements a Disney film that is more lighthearted than a typical nature documentary. At times, the Duchess of Sussex is energetic and playful; at other times, she’s appropriately measured and emotional. You’d expect such spirited reactions when, say, a crocodile leaps out at antelope.

While some have praised the duchess’ narration, some havecriticized her performance as lacking in authorityschmaltzy, sugary,“overegged” and cheesy.

Considering this is a voiceover role well within her professional, pre-royal skill set, it’s clear some critics are placing their preconceived notions of Meghan, the duchess, ahead of the simple fact that this is a Disney documentary about a family of elephants. It’s not “Planet Earth,” nor is it trying to be. 

Others have said the storyline of “Elephant” is too contrived and that certain interactions are too edited. And yes — it’s unclear if an elephant fell over because another one farted, or if that scene was spliced together. Are members of the herd really happy to reunite with family on their journey to get water? We don’t know the inner thoughts of an elephant. But this would also be a far less gripping 86 minutes of footage if not for the colorful commentary. 

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, attends Commonwealth Day service on March 9 in London.

And while the movie is about elephants, it’s hard not to see parallels to the royal family. When Meghan mentions the “great matriarch Gaia” early on, it’s easy to picture Queen Elizabeth II. The duchess’ voice lights up introducing Jomo, the 1-year-old who “is a handful” and “one of the youngest of the herd” — just like her son Archie is the youngest of the current royals. And when Meghan mentions that Jomo isn’t even entirely sure he’s an elephant yet, one thinks of the fact that Archie is certainly unaware that he’s royalty.  

Of course, when Meghan says that “for elephants, family is everything,” there are parallels to Harry’s mission to protect his wifeand young son and pursue a more peaceful life

This Disney film that is more lighthearted than a typical nature documentary.

But whether you’re interested in the royal family or not, the documentary is still a fun trip to take from your couch. The elephants are impossible not to fall in love with, and, as with most Disney films, there’s a happy ending. 

Stream it Friday, April 3, on Disney Plus. 

Tom Holland Goes Full-On ‘Spider-Man’ In Shirtless Instagram Challenge

Tom Holland certainly isn’t slacking on fitness during his time in self-isolation. 

The actor had his Instagram fans swooning on Wednesday when he showed off an impressively chiseled physique while executing a “handstand challenge,” in which he tried to put on a T-shirt while performing a handstand. 

📽 | @TomHolland1996 via instagram stories

— Tom Holland News (@THollandNews) April 1, 2020

Though the “Spider-Man: Far From Home” star dropped a few curse words along the way, his attempts were certainly earnest.

And the actor’s strength and physical dexterity, previously demonstrated in “Avengers: Endgame,” remains intact. 

📽 | @TomHolland1996 via instagram stories #2

— Tom Holland News (@THollandNews) April 1, 2020

With his fourth attempt at the T-shirt maneuver, success was achieved. 

📽 | @TomHolland1996 via instagram stories #4

— Tom Holland News (@THollandNews) April 1, 2020

Holland then challenged actor pals Jake Gyllenhaal, Harrison Osterfield and Ryan Reynolds to follow suit.

By Thursday, both Gyllenhaal and Osterfield had completed the challenge on their own Instagram Stories. 

jake gyllenhaal you’re hot

— connie (@timmychalss) April 2, 2020

As for Reynolds, he replied simply: “No.” 

Ryan Reynolds gives a very appropriate response after being tagged in Tom Holland’s strenuous IG fitness challenge 😬

(via @VancityReynolds)

— Fandom (@getFANDOM) April 2, 2020

Overall, fans seemed more interested in Holland’s bod than the actual stunt.

“So I just watched Tom Holland put a T-shirt on whilst doing a handstand,” wrote one person. “My day is complete.” Added another: “I haven’t stopped thinking about this stupid handstand T-shirt contest that Tom Holland did and if more boys would like to do it right now I wouldn’t COMPLAIN.”

Holland, 23, had been at work on a new film, “Uncharted,” in Germany before the coronavirus pandemic shut down production. Since then, he’s been hunkered down in London while continuing to make headlines for his quirky and alluring presence on social media. 

Earlier this week, he connected with Justin Bieber on Instagram Live, updating fans on their goings-on while in quarantine. 

A New Enemy In The Battle Against Coronavirus: Lockdown Fatigue

See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.  

It’s been weeks since Italy declared a nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and tensions are starting to rise.

“We don’t have a single euro left. We won’t last another week like this,” one resident of Palermo, in Sicily, said in a video that has circulated online in recent days, warning that “revolution will break out” if the government fails to provide more relief.

“I can’t take it anymore. I’m about to collapse. They’re starving us,” said a shopkeeper in the southern city of Bari.

In another video, a group of people shouted at police officers stationed outside a closed bank in the city.

“We don’t have any more food or money. My store has been closed for 20 days now. How am I supposed to live?” a man said.

“Please, come home with me and see for yourself. I have nothing left. I need something to eat,” said a woman.

Particularly in Italy’s poorer southern regions, there is evidence that the initial solidarity that Italians displayed in response to the coronavirus outbreak appears to be fading, as residents chafe at the ongoing restrictions on daily life. Scenes of Italians singing from their balconies have given way to frustration and anger.

Last week, a man in Naples sparked a confrontation between customers and staff at a grocery store when he tried to obtain a few essential items — pasta, tomatoes, bread, oil — but was unable to pay. “This man has no money to pay, he can’t eat, he didn’t buy any champagne or wine, he bought the basics,” an onlooker argued with staff members.

Police were also called to a Lidl supermarket in Palermo last week when a group of about 20 families loaded shopping carts with food and attempted to leave without paying.

Two weeks ago, the Italian government unveiled a 25 billion-euro stimulus package, which included provisions to help workers facing temporary layoffs. But the benefits leave out the large number of Italians who work in the country’s vast informal economy, and residents and public officials say more needs to be done.

Police with the protective masks control the traditional open-air fish market closed due to the coronavirus emergency on March 12 in Catania, Italy.

“We need to act fast, more than fast,” Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando told the La Stampa newspaper, according to Bloomberg. “Distress could turn into violence.”

This week, the Italian government said the country’s lockdown would be extended “at least” until Easter, and possibly longer. On Monday, the death toll in Italy rose by 812 to 11,591 — a total that is higher than any other country in the world. The total number of infections in the country stands at 101,739, although the rate of new infections appeared to be slowing.

Franco Locatelli, the head of Italy’s supreme health council, told HuffPost Italy that he recognised the sacrifices people are making for the sake of public health and that the restrictions are working to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are seeing the results of the measures taken, we are moving forward in this direction,” Locatelli said.

“We must send a message of encouragement — all the more because people are willing to make sacrifices if they see and understand the underlying rationale.”

“The lives of all of us are at stake here,” Locatelli said.

Government officials and public health authorities across Europe have signalled in recent days that the restrictions placed on social and economic activity will likely need to remain in place for weeks or months. Social distancing is necessary to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, officials say, and lifting the measures too soon could allow the virus to surge back.

But the situation in Italy suggests that another emerging front in the battle against the coronavirus will be the struggle to maintain public morale and social order.

In Japan, a sharp increase in coronavirus cases has raised concerns that people are no longer taking official guidelines seriously. “There is a need for everyone to share a sense of urgency,” Satoshi Hori, a professor at Juntendo University and an expert on infection control, told the Financial Times. “But people are becoming tired of exercising restraint.”

Enforcing the restrictions without alienating the public can be a tricky balancing act. In the United Kingdom, police have been criticised for using drones and other tactics to enforce the country’s lockdown measures, with one former Supreme Court justice telling the BBC this week that the heavy-handed response in some areas risked turning the country into a “police state.”

On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that police in the United Kingdom have been warned against “overreach.” According to the paper, senior police chiefs are concerned about “not turning communities against us.”

“We’re not going to enforce our way out of this problem,” one senior police official told the BBC.

With reporting from HuffPost Italy.

Official Coronavirus Figures Don’t Reveal The True Scale Of The Pandemic

See the latest stories on the coronavirus outbreak.  

At a news conference every evening, Jérôme Salomon, France’s director general of health, solemnly delivers an update on the state of the coronavirus epidemic in the country — just as public health officials around the world have been doing every day for weeks.

With each new tally of deaths and infections, news organisations and public health institutions like Johns Hopkins University in Maryland update their maps and charts depicting the pandemic’s severity and spread. The latest figures show that more than 13,000 people have died in Italy, the epicentre of the outbreak in Europe, followed by Spain and France. In the United States, the coronavirus has now killed more people than the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Last week, however, Salomon’s terminology changed slightly. Rather than simply relaying the total number of deaths in France, as he had been doing, he specified that the daily tally reflected only deaths that had been recorded in hospitals.

The official figures “represent only a small part of deaths” in France, Salomon admitted. He acknowledged that “the two main places of death are the hospital and nursing homes.” A system for tallying deaths in nursing homes is planned for the coming days, but it is not yet operational.

“The absolute numbers would no doubt be effectively much higher if we aggregated what is happening in retirement homes, as well as the people who die at home or who are not counted,” Frederic Valletoux, president of the French Hospitals Federation, said last week.

This week Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said, “The only numbers I have total faith in are the Australian numbers.

“I think China is in a really difficult position. They did clamp down incredibly hard and they stopped transmission. But their population is not immune,” he said.

Professor Murphy said he believes China is “trying very hard to prevent second waves”. 

“I think they have been pretty transparent but as I said, I’m only confident about our numbers. 

“I’m certainly not confident that even the numbers out of the US aren’t much higher than being reported because nobody else in the world has been doing testing like we have.”

Over the weekend, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe acknowledged that concerns have been growing about the accuracy of the government’s coronavirus data.

“A lot of our fellow citizens are asking themselves questions about these figures, wanting to know how they are calculated, if they are comprehensive, which are fact and which are estimates,” Philippe said, adding that such questions were “warranted.”

The situation is similar in many countries — including the United States, where it has been difficult to obtain a complete picture of the scale of the epidemic. States and counties report their own figures, providing individual snapshots of the virus’s spread, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks cases at the state level. Other organisations, such as Johns Hopkins, have attempted to provide more detailed counts by aggregating information from various sources, including federal, state, and local officials.

Even the most comprehensive tallies likely omit large numbers of people who may be sick but have not been tested for Covid-19, because tests are not available, their symptoms are too mild to qualify for a test, or they do not yet display any symptoms.

In Spain, as in France, deaths in retirement homes are also not included in the official statistics. According to the newspaper El Pais, however, at least 352 people have died from the coronavirus in nursing homes in Spain.

“It is plausible that deaths are underestimated,” Silvio Brusaferro, the president of Italy’s Higher Institute of Health, said this week. “We report deaths that are signaled with a positive swab. Many pneumonia-related deaths, presumably from Covid — for example in long-term care nursing homes — are not tested with a swab.”

Brusaferro said that public health officials in Italy were working to develop a more precise way to track the number of deaths in the country.

Last week, Angelo Borrelli, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection Service, suggested that the number of coronavirus infections also was far higher than the number officially reported. “A ratio of one certified case out of every 10 is credible,” Borrelli told la Repubblica.

Scientists and public health officials interviewed by HuffPost Italy agreed with Borrelli’s assessment, but cautioned against trying to come up with a specific estimate for the total number of cases. 

“I mean, numbers are underestimated, but we don’t know the full extent at this time. It’s impossible to establish it with certainty,” Walter Ricciardi, a member of the World Health Organisation and a scientific adviser to the Italian government, told HuffPost Italy. 

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks, flanked by French Director General of Health Jerome Salomon, as he announces new measures to limit the spread of Covid-19, on March 14, 2020, in Paris.

In the United Kingdom, as well, hospital deaths have been the only coronavirus-related fatalities reflected in the official daily figures. This week, however, the government announced that it would begin publishing a weekly death toll based on registrations rather than just hospital reports. This means anyone who dies outside of a hospital will be included if a doctor or coroner, for example, notes Covid-19 as a factor in their death. 

Even with improved reporting, however, the lack of widespread testing in many countries, combined with discrepancies in how infections are tallied, may make it difficult to truly understand the scale of the pandemic.

For example, in the UK, the daily government figures on the number of infections indicate the results of tests as they come in, rather than the date when someone was tested because they were displaying symptoms of coronavirus.

This has led to large variations in the reported infection rates day to day that don’t reflect how the virus is actually spreading.

Sheila Bird, a biostatistician who previously worked for the Medical Research Council at the University of Cambridge, told HuffPost UK she believed the government should start reporting infection rates detected in hospital-based tests that reflect when samples were collected, rather than daily test outcomes, as this would give a far more accurate idea of the spread of the virus.

“It’s important that we know the sample week — not the week the test was reported, but the week the sample was taken from the patient,” Bird said. “It’s this date that characterizes the state of the epidemic.”

In the United States, it can take anywhere from 24 hours to 10 days to get the results of the test, depending on the lab and how backed up it is.

Adding to these challenges is the fact that scientists are learning more every day about how the coronavirus spreads. Recent studies in China and the U.S. suggest that a large number of infections are caused by people who display no symptoms of coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Robert Redfield, the director of the US CDC, said in an interview with NPR that as many as one in four cases do not have symptoms.

“That’s important, because now you have individuals that may not have any symptoms that can contribute to transmission, and we have learned that in fact they do contribute to transmission,” Redfield said.

Additionally, Redfield said, the research suggests that people who do become symptomatic may be able to spread the virus up to 48 hours before they show symptoms.

“This helps explain how rapidly this virus continues to spread across the country,” he said.

With reporting from HuffPost France, HuffPost UK, HuffPost Spain, HuffPost Italy, HuffPost Australia and Reuters.

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