The Incredible Journey (1963) Poster

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Straightforward, heart-warming stuff - pet lovers will appreciate
soymilk6 May 2005
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 voice-overs here…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.

Grade: A-
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Themes of friendship and determination
Leslee123114 December 2003
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.
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Another Disney masterpiece about animal/human interactions.
thull18 September 2000
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.
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Amazing Animal Adventure
PeachHamBeach10 May 2002
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!!!
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I love this movie
b-a-h TNT-614 June 2001
A movie that's almost only 'acted' by animals might not sound interesting to 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 eye of any true pet lover.

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Aptly-titled charmer, a highpoint of Disney's early-'60s output...
moonspinner5513 March 2008
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 ****
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they dont make 'em like this anymore
paulos7229 July 2002
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.
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One of Disney's best
spndapny4 July 2007
Warning: 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.
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The remake cannot compare to the best!!
cooljoebay219 September 2009
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.
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Wonderful kids film
Neil Welch12 September 2011
Warning: 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 life.

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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A sheer delight
TheLittleSongbird23 August 2011
I love the 1993 film too, but I only just prefer this delightful classic. The humans are good enough characters, but to me the animals- who are incredibly charming, adorable and very convincing actors- are the best thing about this movie. Though there are many other things to like about The Incredible Journey too, especially the understated and thoughtful documentary-like narration, beautiful scenery and photography and beguiling soundtrack, not to mention a sweet and heart-warming story that effectively shows themes of friendship and determination. All in all, The Incredible Journey is a truly delightful film. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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a lovely story of loyalty
rebeljenn30 December 2005
'The Incredible Journey' is the story of three animals (2 dogs and a cat), based on the story by Sheila Burnford, who travel many miles to be reunited with their owner. It's a film all about loyalty and determination. It's all about the animal characters learning how to work together for the common good. I think that these are good lessons.

I last watched this when I was very young, so I do not remember a lot about it other than I did enjoy it. I do remember the fight with the bear and feeling horrible when the poor cat was swept away in the river. But, like most family films, it does have a good ending. I seem to remember that it was a little slow in places, but the good scenes tend to make up for this.
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absolutely fantastic
black_rose115 December 2006
I first watched this when i was a teen and well i could still watch it over and over again now in fact i do even now,the title of this movie is so true it is an incredible journey indeed,and the animals in this are just the best but i think the best out of the three is one of the dogs called (chance).This just shows that cats and dogs can get on and do very well together,its funny and action packed and well this will get you on the tip of your seat,and well there is a part where it brought a tear to my eye but it happens to us all.If you love animals then you will really really like this movie honest and if you have children then they will watch it time and time again,Then when chance comes out with that (he bit me with his butt)well i couldn't stop laughing and that was just myself everyone else well lets just say there were tears and pains in the stomach in the room.i am not going to say no more honest if you want to know what i am banging on about then just watch this i promise you will love it :)
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Serviceable family movie
Wizard-818 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is the kind of family movie that simply isn't made these days, and that is kind of a shame. It is made in a style that doesn't immediately grab the audience and never lets go, but instead floats in front of the audience in a slow but charming way that invites the viewers to freely take on what's happening on the screen. And the movie is certainly missing many of the strident elements found in many modern-day family movies - there are no strident wisecracks or toilet humor. I will admit that the movie is a little slow at times, though at a running time of just eighty minutes, the movie all the same does not overstay its welcome. And while I was glad that the movie did not dub in voices to represent the thoughts of the animals, it was sometimes a little hard to determine what was going on in their thoughts. Also, while the movie is charmingly leisurely, it is a bit TOO leisurely - the various perils the animals face never make you think they are in serious danger. All the same, the movie is a fine antidote to those tired of loud and strident family movies of modern times.
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Two Dogs & A Cat
AaronCapenBanner3 December 2014
Disney adaptation of the Sheila Burnford novel tells the heart-warming tale of two dogs(a golden retriever & a bull terrier) along with a Siamese cat named Tao whose guardians go away on trips, and through an accident, the three animal friends are left behind so decide to make the long journey back to them because that is what loyal pets do! Along the way, they encounter various animals and people as they grow increasingly hungry and tired, and even get separated for a time before their absence is discovered, which starts a worried search to find these lost furry friends before it is too late... Pleasant and interesting film with fine direction will no doubt appeal most to animal lovers who will recognize the same traits in their own pets.
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An imperfect but decent family adventure, better than the overrated remake
Electrified_Voltage21 July 2010
I saw most of this film's remake, "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey", when I was around seven years old in 1993 (the year it was released), and finally watched it all earlier this year. By the time I watched all of it, I still hadn't seen this original film, "The Incredible Journey" (the first adaptation of the book of the same name by Sheila Burnford, which I've never read). This film was released thirty years before the remake, and I don't think I had ever heard of it before watching the 1993 version again this year. When I watched the "Homeward Bound" film several months ago, I found it to be a mixed blessing. I rented this original film adaptation of the book expecting it to be better than the remake, and after seeing it, I would say it certainly is.

Two dogs and a cat (an old Bull Terrier named Bodger, a young Labrador retriever named Luath, and a Siamese cat named Tao) are owned by the Hunter family. This family has recently gone out on a trip and left their three pets with their friend, John Longridge. He is nice to them while they stay at his place, but they miss their family. Before Longridge leaves on a hunting trip, a neighbour named Mrs. Oakes agrees to take care of his house while he's away. He leaves before she arrives, leaving the pets outside, and before she gets there, the animals decide to set out on a long journey back to the home of their owners. Mrs. Oakes arrives to find that the animals are gone, and thinks that Longridge has taken them with him, so nobody knows they're missing! Bodger, Luath, and Tao find themselves on a long adventure through the Canadian wilderness, struggling for survival as they face peril and hunger!

During the opening credits, we see some beautiful overhead views of autumn scenery, and with this, the film is off to a good start. Right after this, Rex Allen begins his narration, which is not the most amazing narration I've ever heard (perhaps a little wooden at times), but it basically does the job. One major difference between this film and the remake is that there are no human voice-overs for the three pets here. A major problem I found with the 1993 version was Chance and Sassy, voiced by Michael J. Fox and Sally Field respectively, two characters that are supposed to be funny but fail. So, the main thing that makes the original better might be that it doesn't have the voice-overs and lame attempts at humour. This 1963 version still does have its flaws, with a story that sometimes lags, and I think they could have given the musical score a rest once in a while. However, overall, the story is intriguing with the animals on their adventure, and I think it helps if you like dogs and cats. There is some excitement with the danger the animals sometimes face, and I found that the film eventually got better, I think during the second half. I certainly didn't want to stop watching before the end by this point, with all the goings-on. It's also a nicely photographed movie with good filming locations, even though it doesn't have the great mountain scenery of the remake, and both the animal and human scenes can grab viewers (unlike the human scenes in the 1993 version, in my opinion), even if the human cast performances are mostly not that great.

This is a family film with several flaws, and it may be a little dated, but overall, it's still one worth watching for the right audiences. Even though I think this is the stronger of the two, I could imagine many fans of the remake finding the original film boring, and the fact that this movie has no human voice-overs could be a common reason for that. You also shouldn't watch this 1963 version of "The Incredible Journey" expecting a ton of action and suspense. There is some of that here, but don't expect too much. Personally, I didn't find the animals' journey in the original film quite as interesting as it should have been at first, though it is mostly pretty good at this point, and it improved along the way for me. For a while, I wasn't sure whether I would be giving this movie a 7 or 8 out of 10, but in the end, I thought it was definitely 8 out of 10. It certainly doesn't have as many shortcomings as the 1993 remake and its 1996 sequel do. Those 90's films certainly aren't terrible, but without the unfunny humour those ones suffer from, I really think this 1963 release has more going for it.
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Bodgers identity
lestmore13 January 2001
My only problem with the movie is the fact that both the narrator AND the families themselves refer to Bodger, the white pit bull, as a "he" when clearly the dog is female!?!?!?!?!? Whats up with that???? Did Bodger spend alot of time in doggie therapy due to this?
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The Incredible Journey
Jackson Booth-Millard16 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I had seen the 1993 remake, Homeward Bound, before this classic Walt Disney Pictures film, and I have to say, even with the great voice cast in the remake, this classic is more fun. Basically three pets, the old dog, the leader dog (Golden Retreaver) and the Siamese cat, have been left behind by their owners and will be looked after by the old friend of theirs. But when the old guy is not looking, the Golden Retrever with the other two soon following embark on the incredible journey to the place where their owners are staying. They have many long walks through the countryside, come across many risky and sometimes dangerous tests of nature, e.g. water, animals, but they eventually make it back to the owners on the day of one of the kids' birthdays, good for him. Based on a true story, with narration by Rex Allen (narrator of Charlotte's Web). It was number 49 on The 100 Greatest Tearjerkers for the happy ending. Very good!
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What!? No Oscar Nominations For Luath, Bodger, And Tao?
Dalbert Pringle16 December 2017
And, so - Tell me - Who says (in this jaded day and age of ours) that one can't find pleasant entertainment-value in watching a live-action adventure story that contains no CGI, no gore, no sex, no profanity, no over-the-top violence, and no explosions, whatsoever? Eh? Who?

Well - Let me tell you - 1963's "The Incredible Journey" (from Disney Studios) is a truly wholesome and delightful, family-oriented, animal story that can certainly be enjoyed by all ages (young, old, and, yes, jaded, as well).

Featuring lively voice-over narration provided by veteran actor, Rex Allen - The Incredible Journey's many outdoor scenes of pure natural beauty were (believe it or not) actually filmed in Canada in the vast wilderness area of Northern Ontario.

Anyway - This film's happy/sad/tragic story tells the tale of a 200-mile trek taken by Luath (the Labrador retriever), Bodger (the bull-terrier), and Tao (the Siamese cat) who (together as a loyal team) bravely venture across this great distance in hopes of soon reuniting themselves with their beloved human family.
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Nice forgotten Disney movie
koroxx30 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I knew the remake of this Disney movie, more of my generation, and I discovered only recently it was a remake, and I wanted to see the original. Now it's done!

So, the story is mostly the same, very casual, but it's very interesting to follow! The landscape is beautiful and the crew did an awesome job with the animals ! I'm still wondering how they managed the Lynx vs. cat sequence. You don't see that anymore nowadays! The only (little) negative point is that there's no "bad" humans. Everyone is nice and helpful. I know it's a Disney movie, but I think it was kinda weird.
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A Bit Dull At Times, But This Remains One Of Disney's Finest Live Action Films (SPOILERS)
I_Am_The_Taylrus28 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers

To tell you the truth, though, I kind of liked Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey a bit better than the original the Incredible Journey, but this is definitely one of the more richer Disney live-action films out there. This movie is not as funny as Homeward Bound, not even remotely funny, but this shows how animals really act in reality, and they do not talk with voices of Don Ameche, Michael J. Fox, and Sally Field. This is also more faithful to the book. Here is the bad news, though. Younger children watching this film will not make the whole movie through. They will think it is too boring. To tell you the truth, I think that some scenes of this film are boring, too, but not a lot.

Here is the plot of the Incredible Journey. It is a very simple story. A narrator narrates a story about three animals, a cat and two dogs named Bodger, Luath, and Tao have to live with a man while their family is away. Then they escape. They set out to try to find their family. They encounter numerous perils along the way. Bodger is attacked, Luath gets porcupine pricks stuck into his face, and so on. Eventually the family realizes that the animals are missing. Then in the end the animals finally are reunited with their family.

Overall, this is a very heartwarming and charming 1960's Disney family film. Yes, some scenes are boring and I like Homeward Bound better but I still had a great time watching this. One of the problems that I have about this film is that the narrator sometimes sounds likes he is narrating a CBS documentary about the wildlife. The is the only big complaint. Other than that this film is a great family film. In Homeward Bound, by the way, some of the characteristics of the animals are switched. Luath becomes Shadow, and Bodger becomes Chance. Anyway, this is a fantastic family film that should not be missed.


Recommended Films: Homeward Bound.
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Good film!
Movie Nuttball27 July 2005
The Incredible Journey is a very good film that has a good cast which includes Émile Genest, John Drainie, Tommy Tweed, Sandra Scott, Syme Jago, Marion Finlayson, Ronald Cohoon, Robert Christie, and Beth Lockerbie. The acting by all of these actors is very good. The thrills is really good and some of it is surprising. The movie is filmed very good. The music is good. The film is quite interesting and the movie really keeps you going until the end. This is a very good and thrilling film. If you like Émile Genest, John Drainie, Tommy Tweed, Sandra Scott, Syme Jago, Marion Finlayson, Ronald Cohoon, Robert Christie, and Beth Lockerbie, the rest of the cast in the film, Adventure, Drama, Family, Comedy and interesting Animal films then I strongly recommend you to see this film today!
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Interesting documentary-like film
Atreyu_II10 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Less known than the 1993 movie, this one is, however, the original one. The 1993 film is a remake of this one but a good remake, to the point of (with all due respect) being superior to the original. Many people prefer the remake in this case.

Despite the inherent similarities between the 2 movies, there are also many differences. The story is familiar: a family leaves their 3 pets (two dogs and a cat). The animals (as the narrator refers to them) try to find their way home so that they can be reunited with their human family again. They live an incredible journey, facing nature's extreme conditions, dangerous animals and other dangers (such as waterfalls).

However, in this version, the kids practically never appear except briefly in the beginning and the ending and they're just 2 kids (a boy and a girl), while in the 1993 film they're 3 kids who often appear. Also, the animals are different and their roles either.

The 3 lovable animals are Luath (a Labrador Retriever), Bodger (a pure white Bull Terrier) and Tao (a Siamese cat with chocolate-colored front paws and magnificent blue eyes). Luath is the young one - his role here is the role of Chance from the 1993 film, except that he is nowhere near as goofy or hyperactive. Bodger is the old one - the same role of Shadow from the 1993 film. Tao's role is similar to that of Sassy from the 1993 film.

Unlike the 1993 film, here the animals do not talk. Instead, it is narrated, but feels more like a nature documentary than a movie and is also more serious and dramatic than the remake (which has lots of comedy) and consists more of expert animal training. Although this old movie looks fairly dated today (unlike the remake), both versions offer to its viewers beautiful sceneries and landscapes (pure nature, waterfalls, green places, mountains, forests, seasons changes, etc...).

The 3 pets are friendly to each other, like in the remake. Bodger, however, tires more easily than Shadow, which might mean that he's older or at least more fragile in health. Bull Terriers, also known as "Boullies", still make me smile because of their unique appearance, especially their egg-like head's shape (their most original feature). They're lovable but stubborn dogs, like most Terriers. A neighbor of mine owned a Bull Terrier (a pure white one, just like Bodger).

Tao, the cat, is independent but not vain like Sassy. Plus, Tao is quite brave, to the point of protecting Bodger when he's in danger.

I like the 1993 remake better, but the original film has its value either and is decent enough.
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