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This movie is both intensely moving and beautiful. The artwork and animation are fine, though certainly not ground-breaking, even for it's time. The strength of this movie comes from the tragic beauty of the story and the haunting score.
I typically consider myself something of a cold-hearted realist, and watched The Dog of Flanders safe in the knowledge that it was a fictional and that my masculine facade would be uncracked by the emotional story unfolding on the screen before me. It was, I'm happy to say, a misplaced confidence. Throughout the story there are light and dark moments but overall there is a slow decent into gloom. As the film passes the halfway point I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper until totally submerged in the atmosphere. And as the snowstorm in the penultimate scene roars around Nelo there I was on the road side watching him pass by, and as he sits in the freezing church I stood amongst the pews observing. It's an almost ghostly experience, I felt as though I was with the boy and his dog in the later scenes, I wanted to break the silence and say something reassuring to them, offer them solace against the cruel world, but they could neither hear or see me and the drama unfolded through a wafer thin layer of reality.
And when the film was over I sat and watched the credits, wiped the tears from my eyes and tried to decide what it was that was making me so emmotional. I thought about it for almost 2 days solid, and 6 months on I'm still not sure what it is that's quite so captivating. The story is a much trimmed down version of a long-running Japanese series but that doesn't take anything away from the contents of this wonderful film.
I urge you to watch this film (only the subtitled version though), and draw your own conclusions, and if when you too are sitting in that cold dark church in the penultimate act, you hear a sniffle from the next pew along, apologies in advance because it's probably me.
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