As a kid, I was a huge fan of Disney. Well… as most kids were, so nothing new there. But even though I had as a semi-baby (you know, three, four years) a morbid fixation with The Little Mermaid (quoting my parents: “After watching it, you would rewind it and see it again”), I was a huge fan of Aladdin and some of the more discrete of their movies. Three come to mind: Nightmare Before Christmas, The Great Mouse Detective and The Fox and the Hound.
Nightmare Before Christmas to this day is my all-time favorite movie. It is the main reason why I really enjoy musicals, stop motion animation and handcraft in film… I honestly prefer a guy in a suit than complete computer animation… maybe something like the Predator (that I bet was probably a mix of a suit and some computer effects) would be my favorite. Also, it is the main reason why I always give credit to Tim Burton, even though he screws things over and over with some of the worst movies I’ve seen in a while (from the top of my head, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sweeney Todd). The Great Mouse Detective why I always tend to a more mystery type of read: be it manga, be it book, and be it comics, I always have preferred the ones with a detective (a real one… not Batman). My favorite is Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, which is probably the best detective out there, and the best novel is Murder on the Orient Express, mostly because you will never guess who the killer is. Both movies I’ve seen repeatedly in my life, but not The Fox and the Hound. And I have a pretty good explanation for that:
Have you read the novel? I did. It’s horrible. It’s a great novel, but it’s horrible. First off, Copper is an old dog (he is what in the movie was said to be the Chied) and Chief is the young new dog, showing himself as a good hunter. Tod the fox was adopted for a year but as he reaches sexual maturity, he goes into the wild. As the Master (the hunter) goes hunting for fox, Chief is killed by a train. Chief that is originally the younger dog. So, in a mix of anger and revenge, they try to kill only him. They kill his mate, his offspring, his second mate, his second offspring. And Tod, by this point, was being hunted down every year during the winter. As the time passed, the forest gave way to buildings, and the fox companionship was getting scarcer by the second, so guess what? Even though Tod’s entire family was killed… twice, he still looked forward to the hunting. After some complications (if you can call kid eating poison and dying a complication), Copper follows Tod during a freaking day, to the point where Tod dies from exhaustion, and Copper faints from exhaustion on top of him. And then, afterwards, the dog is treated as a hero, as the hunter also is… but after some time, they lose popularity, so the hunter goes into a retiring home, that doesn’t allow dogs. So, he shoots the fucking dog. As the dog licks the hunter’s hand. And the book overall is not so bad if you don’t have in your brains the image of the cutest dog and the cutest fox ever to be put on film.
How cute! Now imagine one dead of exhaustion and the other one shot in the head.
As soon as the movie ended, I was thinking to myself: if there is something as the Disney magic it is the ability to take something that is horrible and disturbed and making a kid-friendly movie out of it. Although I haven’t read it yet, people say that the Jungle Book is a pretty fucked up novel. Again, no research made, but I remember someone saying to me that Mowgli is not accepted in the human village, so he asks for the Elephant March to run over it. I honestly thought that I would be crying my eyes out since the first second of movie. I didn’t. Although some stuff really bored the fuck out of me, like for instance the two birds following a caterpillar, and the three songs that aren’t good in my opinion, I can see that this stuff was made solely for softening the blow of the movie
I find the overall art of the movie to be pretty good, with the paintings and overall effects to be pretty effective (I swear that they recorded vapor and placed it strategically on the waterfall and it looks great). The movie tried his hardest to make it look like the movie has no villain, showing the old dog as the first villain, then showing how sympathetic he was, then the old hunter as the villain, then by the end showing how simple-minded he was, and then throwing the bear into the mix (by the way, the bear is also present in the novel, being the thing that brings young Chief into the grace of the Hunter in the first place), and as most kids probably figured out, the Bear was behind everything all along.
One of the prettiest frames in animation I’ve seen in a while…
The movie tries to be a coming of age story, sort of like Bambi, but it isn’t. The passing of time is never really clear; you can’t really see that they have matured: heck, they really didn’t. They lived their lives separately, and they become exactly what society wanted them to become, but after all that time (the movie is not clear on how much time it’s been, maybe a year, but probably more) they are just that: victims of society. I guess if the movie tried a little harder showing what happened in that time instead of “move along, movie”, we would have a better movie. And I never really got Copper’s motivation to kill Tod: they toned down so much Chief’s death that he… didn’t die. So, Copper is going after Tod because he injured his friend? Way to show your friendship.
Mickey Rooney does the voice of Tod. I’m thinking this was the first time any famous actor did the voice of a cartoon… which is pretty impressive.
Overall… the movie is good, but I have to say, it wasn’t as good as I remembered. I remembered that the friendship between the fox and the hound was something that was explored for a long time. In the movie, you get that they were together for probably a day. Big Mamma is annoying, Fox’s woman Vixey is Tod with eyelashes, the implicit romance between the hunter and Tod’s previous owner is there for convenience sake… But if you haven’t seen the movie yet, really, go read the novel. It’s a completely different experience and I believe that reading the book thinking of a dog and a fox is better than reading the book thinking about the disney’s version.