Tears of the Sun

Bruce Willis plays a Special-Ops commander who leads his team into the jungle of Nigeria to rescue a doctor played by Monica Belluci. The good doctor will only cooperate if they will rescue the patients too. Although his commander tells him not to, Bruce and his men will not leave without all of the people.

  • Starring: Bruce Willis, Cole Hauser, Monica Bellucci
  • Director(s): Alonzo Harris
  • Producer(s): A. Rifkin
  • Screenwriter(s): Alex Lasker, Patrick Cirillo
  • Distributor: Sony Pictures
  • Animal Coordinator: Birds and Animals Unlimited
  • Release Date: Friday, March 07, 2003
  • Rating: Acceptable

Featured Animal Action

Vultures

Just as a soldier is about to decapitate the priest, the camera cuts to lots of birds flying out of some bushes as the soldiers are looking out over the field for the enemy. A trainer was contacted to provide homing pigeons for this scene. As the scene was being set up the cameraman had the camera on and caught the birds flying out of the bushes naturally. The trainer was immediately called and cancelled and the production might have discovered some new stars!

Two vultures are feeding on a dead body and then later are shown flying overhead in one scene. The dead body was a mannequin that had some food spread on it to encourage the birds to stay on the body. A trainer released the birds who took flight. Another trainer stood off camera on a ladder holding a cage with food in it. The birds flew to the trainer and into the cage where they received some well deserved food and water.

Mandrill

There are a few scenes with this beautiful animal in them. The mandrills' name is Azhuma. The mandrill is in the jungle walking, then it yawns and we see what huge teeth it has. Then two more shots of this beautiful creature are shown as the camera brings us back and forth from the soldiers to the Mandrill walking in the jungle. And as the soldiers continue walking through the jungle, the mandrill is seen in the distance walking along a branch. The shots of the mandrill were filmed separately and inserted into the film later in post production. Several trainers were on hand to help with the mandrill. A trainer put the animal on its mark and the camera filmed the animal as it naturally walked and even yawned. For the scene where the mandrill walks on a branch, the trainer spent several hours picking out the perfect branch for the animal to crawl on. It had to be both wide and long enough. The first tree branch that was tried didn't seem wide enough and the trainer thought the animal looked uncomfortable so another tree was picked out. This one proved to be much better. A ladder was secured to the tree with cable and the trainer guided the mandrill up the ladder and onto the branch. The animal again crawled on the branch as the camera filmed it. After the scene was filmed, the trainer again helps guide the animal back down the branch and ladder. The area was closed off to all people except the trainers, director and the American Humane Representative.

Goats, Chickens and a Herding Dog

When the doctor and patients are saying goodbye, there are some chickens mulling about the yard and a goat tied to a tree. In another scene, chickens are scattered about as are dead bodies. There are some huts on fire in the background. Fire bars were placed on the huts to control the flames. The smoke was also controlled by crewmembers and the animals were always placed at a safe distance away from any fire or smoke. Five goats and twenty four chickens were on call. A goat was tied to the tree by a trainer and the chickens were placed around the ground and feed was scattered around. Some chickens were also placed on a tie down, which means a piece of monofilament was tied to the leg of the chicken and then tied to a small stake in the ground. This would keep the chickens from wandering too far. The actors were all aware of where the animals were. When the scene was over, the trainers would untie the chickens on tie downs and then the trainer sent his dog to herd the chickens to the awaiting pen. Although this dog is not seen on camera, it had an important behind the scenes job that we felt was worth noting. Of course the dog was rewarded with a treat and a nice cage with all the comforts of home between takes.

Lizard

As Lt. Waters take a drink from his canteen, he looks over and sees a lizard climbing on a nearby branch. This scene was filmed ahead of time without the actor. A trainer placed the lizard on a branch and the cameraman filmed the lizard crawling. In post production this scene was inserted into the film at just the right moment.

Pig

A wild boar runs out of a field of tall grass. As the soldiers hear the unseen animal coming they aim their rifles towards the noise. When the boar gets into view, the soldiers lower their weapons and the animal continues to run off camera. The soldiers call the animal a pig and they are right. Although it looks like a wild boar, it was really a pig wearing some non-toxic makeup to make it look like a wild boar. Several trainers surrounded the area off camera in case the pig decided to take a wrong turn out of the tall grass. One trainer guided the pig on a leash through the tall grass as the camera shot the footage. Then the trainer removed the leash and the pig ran a few feet forward and comes out of the tall grass and runs off camera to a trainer waiting with food.