Bless the Beasts & Children (1971) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A group of social misfits at a summer camp for boys run away to save penned-in buffaloes from a rifle club's slaughter.

  • Early- to mid-teens Teft, Cotton, Shecker, Goodenow and brothers Lally 1 and Lally 2 are cabin mates at Box Canyon Camp, a boys' camp in the southwest U.S. designed, as its motto says, to turn boys into cowboys. Each boy comes from a middle class or upper middle class family, but each has an issue with his home life which has led to socialization problems. Each has brought those issues to camp, where they are seen as being the misfits, even among the camp administrators. They bond because of their misfit status despite their being a disparate group. One day, their cabin counselor, Wheaties, with who they also have an antagonistic relationship, takes them to a buffalo preserve. In actuality, it is a place where so-called hunters shoot the captive buffalo who really have no chance against the hunters in their captive state. Wheaties compares the boys to the buffalo: dumb animals that only take up space on the planet. As such, the boys vow to go back to the preserve to free the buffalo. Without a real plan, the boys go on their multi-day trek back to the preserve, often questioning what they are doing along the way. In wanting to free the buffalo, they are in a sense freeing themselves. Can they accomplish their task?

  • A group of adolescent boys placed in a summer camp by their otherwise too busy parents find themselves unable to fit in and are soon branded as "bedwetters" by their fellow campers and unsympathetic counselor. After their counselor exposes them to what they perceive as a cruel slaughter of corralled bison, these misfits are soon drawn to a common purpose to break free of their camp and free the bison. On their way to free the bison, individual flashbacks reveal the relationships each has with his own family and give insight to their reasons behind wanting to set the bison free. Karen and Richard Carpenter's singing of the title song occurs now and again throughout the movie to underscore the the drama.


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