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A movie that's almost only 'acted' by animals might not sound interesting
some, but I must say that I truly love this movie. Not only because I love
animals, but also because this is very good example of a very enjoyable
movie with pets as main characters. Nowadays it seems that the only way to
make animals 'act' is to make them talk and tell silly jokes, usually by
using some awful CGI effects. This very well done tale, instead, delivers
the goods through a very nice narration, and through an interesting plot
that doesn't get silly and stays almost true to complete credibility: two
dogs and a cat start a long and adventurous trip home after accidentally
getting lost (this has happened various times in history, even for long
distances). A very nice tale for the whole family, and a mild yet
captivating story that will almost bring a tear -- a happy one -- to the
of any true pet lover.
Yep, I can still recall just how much this particular film managed to
stir, thrill, rattle and enthral me when I was first introduced to it
at the age of four. Having spanned the past couple of decades or so as
an afternoon TV favourite, it's given me plenty of opportunities over
the years to catch up with it every so often and witness Lua the
retriever, Bodger the bull terrier and Tao the Siamese cat making the
incredible journey referenced in the title all over again. No matter
how archaic it could easily be dismissed as in comparison to the kind
of household pet movies that get snapped up nowadays (no celebrity
no voice-overs at all for that matter), it remains as
charming and wonderful as I ever remember it being - simple, engaging,
maybe even a little powerful, especially for anyone who's ever felt
close to an animal companion of their own. The plot, straightforward
enough for a young kid to easily follow, but never crossing the line
into the overly simplistic or childish, is the perfect definition of
loyalty and devotion, particularly in regards to the bond between a pet
and their owner. Two dogs (one a sprightly youngster, the other an aged
fellow struggling to keep up) and their feline friend get separated
from the human family that's doted on them all their lives, and are
compelled by their strong sense of homing instinct and longing for
their two-legged pals to head off together in the direction of home -
completely oblivious, of course, to the fact that it's over 200 miles
away and leads mostly through a terrain of beautiful but treacherous
wilderness where wild animals have the upper paw.
What works so well about 'the Incredible Journey' is that the animals themselves are actually a very good set of actors (the highly expressive cat playing Tao is particularly impressive), and the film-makers show a lot of well-judged willingness to let that tell the bulk of the story in itself. Contrast this with the 1993 remake, 'Homeward Bound', which updated the tale to a contemporary setting and, inevitably, gave them celebrity voice-overs and human personalities (a handful of people embraced it for precisely those reasons, but, even if one of those voices did come from the legendary Michael J Fox, I found it a little unconvincing and distracting myself). While that particular version chose to up the emphasis on comedy, and had its four-legged trio spouting throwaway wisecracks and playground dialogue for much of the time, the original was much more confident (and rightly so) in the animals' abilities to charm and engage us with their own naturalistic merits. An off-screen narrator does explain a lot of the details that they probably couldn't have otherwise conveyed on their own, but these never feel forced or excessively anthropomorphic - they remain animals at all times, natural and convincing, and in the process actually manage to express far more depth and character than the 'Homeward Bound' trio ever could, even with their firm grasp of the English language. That scene where Bodger licks and nudges Tao so enthusiastically says a lot more about the affection they have for one another, I think, than all the throwaway gags in the world.
The human actors are more of a mixed bag - some of them are good, some of them are just average - but hey, they're hardly the reason why most of us would choose to watch this movie in the first place. Things are generally a lot stronger when they're focusing on the animals, a fair exception being the sequence involving a lonely young girl who provides temporary refuge for Tao, which paves way for one of the most poignant moments in the entire film (and which the remake, oddly enough, has no equivalent scene for).
Another great thing about 'the Incredible Journey' is the way in which it manages to blend both the beauty and splendour of the natural wilderness with the far rougher 'survival of the fittest' principle that drives it. The scene involving the mother bear and her cubs goes from being cute and amusing to outright towering in the blink of an eye (allowing the ever-charismatic Tao to bag one of his finest moments). The scene where Tao gets pursued by the lynx is also pretty frightening (and certainly not without its irony), and Lua's run-in with the porcupine becomes rather harrowing when the poor dog has to deal with the consequences of going after such prickly prey. Incidents which all serve as sharp reminders of just how vulnerable these pampered pets really are in a world so far out of their usual kitchen-and-fireside-rug element. Though it was the river-crossing sequence, along with the less dramatic but equally affecting scene that follows, that I'll readily admit to finding most heart-rending the first time I saw it, and on every single viewing since I can't help but feel just a little apprehensive inside as it happens.
Still, while it's certainly a more daunting experience than its light-hearted remake (which reformulated most of those scenes for their comic effect), it also maintains a good balance between the danger and the warmth, and the robust appeal of its trio of leads gives it a heart of solid gold from beginning to end. Other than the animals, the scenery and the background score, there really isn't a great deal else to it when all is said and done, but those assets alone are effective enough to make it soar - indeed, the only modern creature flick that could stand a chance of outclassing it would have to be 'Babe'. Tailor-made for any pet lover, 'the Incredible Journey' is one of Disney's key live action classics, one which I've enjoyed watching all my life, and I anticipate many a pleasurable repeated viewing in the years and afternoon TV airings still to come.
This movie is a wonderful film about friendship and determination. Two
dogs, a retriever and a bull terrier, and a Siamese cat go on a quest to
find their family and take care of each other along the way. The
interaction among the pets is absolutely amazing. The love they have for
each other is evident throughout the film.
Some may find the film a little boring because there is no dialogue for long portions of the film and of course it has an "old movie" look to it. The remake, Homeward Bound, is funnier and more action-packed, but I still prefer the original by far. The music and beautiful scenery alone make this a must-see.
This was an emotional milestone for me as a child. Anyone who doesn't cry their eyes out watching this movie has a heart of stone! Based on the book by Sheila Burnford.
This is Disney at its best. Filmed on location amidst beautiful scenery.
An intelligent and common sense screenplay. Human actors that are down to
earth and believable. A truly outstanding narrator. An endearing story
line that isn't really that far-fetched; pets, especially dogs, have been
known to travel great distances to get back home.
I want to emphasize the narration. This movie is just one example of Disney's ability to find highly skilled narrators for movies/documentaries in which humans play a minor part; and sometimes no part at all.
I can't get over how AWESOME the animals are who had the three main roles in this movie!!! As a matter of fact, the animals in the story made the human actors really hard to watch. I've been a big lover of this story since I read the book by Sheila Burnford and saw this 1963 film. The new film with the voices of actors sucks by comparison. Miss it and catch this classic. My favorite character is Tao-Cat of course, because he has all the best stunts in the movie. Just watch the scenes with the bear and the lynx and the rushing river!!! The interaction between Bodger, Luath and Tao is beautiful to watch as they protect and encourage each other en route across the beautiful rugged terrain of Ontario, Canada to find their family. I'm not a big advocate of family and G rated films, but some are just too good to pass up!!!
Wonderful adventure from Walt Disney, adapted from Sheila Burnford's book and a total charmer that should captivate any audience, regardless of age. A gorgeous Golden Retriever, a Bull Terrier, and a Siamese cat travel 200 miles together across wilderness territory in Canada to be reunited with their human family. Director Fletcher Markle does amazing things with these animals (much more so than he does with the somewhat-stilted human actors, anyway). Beautifully photographed, exciting, and funny/sweet without resorting to the obvious. These plucky pets are something to see, much better than those cast for the 1993 remake (in which celebrities 'voiced' the animals' thoughts). Some things are better left simplified. *** from ****
a great film - far better than all the modern animatronics stuff from disney and the like these days - can anyone clarify what exact breed of cat played the part? I don't think it was Siamese or Birman but very closely related.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved the book, love the movie because it's so near to the book and always enjoy watching it. Rex Allen's narration is so fitting, his voice so familiar from other nature Disney films about cougars, raccoons, skunks, etc... and how they interact with humans. The updated versions are cute but this one is realistic. They don't have the animals perform tricks that they wouldn't normally perform in a real home, they don't use stop action photography, digital animals, a lot of WOW special effects, or animation. The animals don't sing, dance, surf, or talk to humans. They are just two dogs and a cat who were well trained to take commands on cue and do what the story demanded--find a way home through 250 miles of wilderness. Having dogs and cats myself and watching them as untrained as they are you can see many of the same instincts that the pets display in the movie. Animals are just as expressive as humans, sometimes even more so. This movie is perfect in relating that and just how strong the drive is to get back to the people they belong to and love. It's also perfect for the whole family to enjoy because it's not overly sappy, has true to life adventure, has nothing objectionable that I can think of, and is beautifully shot. It's too bad Disney can't find people who can make a movie like this anymore.
Some people tend to write this movie off as boring. But, maybe they are
just spoiled by watching too many modern day movies! I for one
appreciate narration by a human because stories are great and I need a
human to interpret what real animals are doing. Pardon the slang, but
the remake is too "gay" for me. Using celebrity voices and CGI has
always been retarded. They might as well use a completely fake dog like
in the new Scooby Doo movies. To convert an animal personality into a
human one does nothing for me.
The Incredible Journey has some convincing scenes performed by real animals the way a real animal would perform. Watch this one and realize just how much the remake smells.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was young, yer honour - I was only 11. I'd led a sheltered life. I
hadn't developed the hardened shell which has seen me through my adult
So I quite enjoyed the adventures of Luath (Labrador), Tao (Siamese cat), and the aged Bodger (bull terrier) as they made their way across the wilderness of Canada to find their owners in their new home. Their adventure was exciting, and it held my young attention throughout.
What I wasn't prepared for was the wave of distress as it became clear that Bodger hadn't made it, and the way my throat choked up when it became clear he had.
It is now 50 years later. I still recognise this as a terrific kids film, although I now remember various bits being very studio bound, and all of it carefully assembled by editing a selection of sequences which the animals had been carefully trained for, and lucky shots. And I am aware of how carefully that closing sequence manipulated the audience's emotions.
So why does it still bring tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat just thinking about it?
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