A young Czechoslovakian boy and the German shepherd that loves him - set during the Nazi occupation.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Michal Vavrusa ...
Frantisek
Jana Hlavácková ...
Kalasová - Frantisek's mother
Karel Chromík ...
Kalas - Frantisek's father
Vladimir Jedenáctik ...
Keeper
Karel Hábl ...
SS Officer
Borivoj Navrátil ...
Gestapo
Mirek Pechar ...
Driver
J. Toms ...
SS Officer
Pavel Jiras ...
Trainman
Jan Hrusínský ...
Village boy
Milan Jonás ...
Engineer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ivo Hepner ...
SS Officer
Petr Holcer ...
NCO Schupo
Zdenek Kryzánek ...
Keeper (voice)
Milan Rabas ...
Policeman
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A young Czechoslovakian boy and the German shepherd that loves him - set during the Nazi occupation.

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Genres:

Drama | War

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Release Date:

1 November 1975 (Czechoslovakia)  »

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1.37 : 1
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Connections

Edited into CBS Children's Film Festival: Sirius (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Teaching children about grief
12 September 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Following an interest in director Frantisek Vlácil, who is famous, at least amongst film buffs, for his Mediaeval-set masterpieces Marketa Lazarová and The Valley of the Bees, I decided to have a look at some of his lesser-known films, including this well-made children's film.

Parents will need to know what this film is doing to decide whether it's appropriate to show their children, so I just want to highlight in advance, in addition to the generic warning, that I am about to write significant *spoilers* for the film.

Sirius is the name of a wolfhound (a breed we in England would call an Alsatian) who is the beloved companion of young Frankie. Together they go crayfish catching in rivers and have a bit of a mess around. Sirius has been trained to carry Frankie's bag which is a plus. Everything is going well until Frankie's dad, who is a railway signalman, gets involved in blowing up a Nazi train, and the SS come for him.

Despite the heavy plot, there is at no point any bloodshed in the movie so you won't have to worry about a child seeing burning men running around in a train wreck, although you do see explosions in the distance. Frankie's dad is knocked to the ground by an Alsatian that latches onto his arm at one point, that is about the upper limit of the film's violence.

So dad is gone, and the Reichprotektor (Heydrich at the time - not someone to tell your children about) decides that all useful dogs should be rounded up to aid the Reich, trained for unsound purposes.

Frankie can't find a workable solution to keep Sirius from being conscripted and so his uncle arranges for the dog to be shot. The movie does end with the dog being shot unfortunately, although the view of the shot is obscured, at the moment the trigger is pulled, by a tree.

The metaphor here is that the star Sirius (the brightest in the sky) is due to drop below the horizon in a few thousand years, and then the constellation of Orion will disappear in twelve thousand years (these disappearances are from a European perspective). So just as Sirius dies, Frankie will also. The film is giving you a way to broach the subject of death with your child/children. The metaphor continues that Orion and Sirius will return to the night sky eventually, they haven't ended, they just disappear from view.

The astronomy involved is fairly interesting, everyone knows that the earth spins on an axis, but also the earth's axis itself spins (a phenomenon known as precession), this happens extremely slowly and leads to cycles in the stars visible in the night sky over the long term.

The children in the audience at my cinema, did not start crying when the dog was shot, but there were a lot of questions for mum and dad as soon as the film ended. Probably not one to take extremely impressionable children to. The movie is short at 50 minutes so it's not too much to absorb, even if the subject matter is weighty.

The film has other elements that might be useful for a child's moral education, at one point Frankie swaps his shoes for half a pair of binoculars. This means that he will spend the rest of his time, until he would be due for his next pair, living barefoot, which is a lesson in responsibility for him. Everyone has to be useful in the film, and in addition to the chores that Frankie does, Sirius also helps out and is a working dog.

One last note is the musical accompaniment to the film is probably the best element, really evocative of childhood, this kind of hypersensitive attachment to the environment that's pretty magical.


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