Who doesn’t love animal-centric movies? Touching, comic and heartbreaking all at the same time, these movies are basically created to pluck at your heartstrings. Whether it be old-timer Lassie, from the Lassie movies, or the newcomer Joey, the equine hero of the movie War Horse, these movies have retained their charm through the ages and never fail to draw in the crowds. The charm probably lies in the depiction of the human-pet bond, which most of us can relate to, so seeing it being played out on screen makes us connect with the movie, be it regarding a killer whale, or a talking dog. There have been a great number of such movies, with numerous directors attempting to cash in on the popularity of animals in movies, but there a few whose stars really managed to imprint themselves in the minds of their audiences. Here are a couple of my favourite movie animals:
Hachiko from Hachi: A Dog’s Tale or Hachikō Monogatari
Based on a real life story, Hachi, the ultimate tale about the bond between humans and dogs, tells about Hachiko, the Akira, who would leave his master at the train station everyday and come back every afternoon to wait for his arrival. One day, his master dies while at work, but Hachiko continued to wait for him at the station every day for the next 9 years.The real Hachiko, named so for his number in order of birth in his litter (hachi is Japanese for eight) was adopted by a college professor, and waited for him at the Shibuya station everyday, even after his death, arriving at the station exactly as the train was about to arrive.To this day, Hachiko is cited as the ultimate example of loyalty in Japan, with a bronze statue in his likeness erected at the Shibuya station after his death, and a pair of bronze paw-prints marking the exact spot where he used to wait everyday.
I understand if you need a couple of minutes to wipe your tears before you move on to the next animal on your list.
Marley from Marley and Me
Adapted from a popular book of the same name, it tells the story of the life of ‘The World’s Worst Dog’, and from getting expelled from dog discipline classes to terrorizing babysitters, he does it all and some more to deserve this title. This movie was considered by a lot of dog-owners to be a pretty realistic take on the relationship between dogs and their humans, with many episodes from the movie reminding them of the goofy things their own dogs are wont to do, and how their dogs are a constant source of comfort through all the ups and downs in life.
Babe the piggy from the Babe movies
Whoever could’ve known that pigs could be this adorable? Babe, the little pig, is won by the farmer at a contest in a farm, who puts him with his dog and her litter. Babe soon develops dog-like qualities and reveals himself to be very adept at sheep herding. Following several ups and downs and overcoming adversity in the form of opposition from a fellow dog, a mean duck and the revelation that sometimes little piggies are made into bacon, Babe finally proves himself to be champion herder.
The movie made people aware of the fact that pigs are very intelligent, social animals, and make excellent pets, and are not just food hoggers who do nothing but wallow in mud all day. Reportedly, the movie was so influential, especially amongst young people, that there was a rise in vegetarianism after it’s release.
It’s not as popular as some of the other animal movies here, but it’s still one of the most wonderful stories about animals. It is about a boy and his pet cheetah, the titular Duma, who journey across deserts and traverse crocodile-infested rivers in order to return Duma to his natural habitat, so he can lead the life he was meant to live. Along the way, they encounter a shady stranger, Rip, who has an animal friend of his own, a jumpy bush baby named Mashaka. The movie follows a predictable plot, but the beautiful, stark landscapes and the animals more than make up for it.
Willy from the Free Willy series
Although there have been 3 more movies since the 1993 original, most people will tell you the first one is their favourite. The basic premise of the movie is that Willy is an orca whale who is separated from his pod and captured and the rest of the movie is about how he escapes captivity and reunites with his family with the help of a young, loveable miscreant named Jesse. The movie catapulted its lead Keiko the male orca, whose name means ‘the lucky one’ in Japanese, to stardom. Originally captured in Iceland, Keiko spent a few horrible years in an aquatic park, where he developed a skin condition. After the movie, the Free Willy Foundation was established and plans began to relocate him to the wild. The plan was very controversial and took years to execute, and even when he was finally released into the wild in 2002, he was never really accepted by wild whales. He nevertheless spent a happy couple of months in the seas, monitored by humans, up till his death in 2003.