16 user 2 critic

Tarka the Otter (1978)

A family film which follows the life of a real otter and its adventures in the wild.


David Cobham


Gerald Durrell (screenplay), David Cobham (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Peter Bennett Peter Bennett ... Master of the Otter Hounds
Edward Underdown Edward Underdown ... Hibbert
Brenda Cavendish Brenda Cavendish ... Lucy
John Leeson ... Secretary of Hunt
Reg Lye ... Dairy Farmer
George Waring George Waring ... Farm Labourer
Stanley Lebor ... Farm Labourer
Max Faulkner ... Ferretter
Spade Spade ... Tarka
Osla Osla ... Whitelip
Boatman Boatman ... Deadlock
Peter Ustinov ... The story talker (voice)


A family film which follows the life of a real otter and its adventures in the wild.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

1978 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

O Reino de Tarka See more »

Filming Locations:

Devon, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Spade, Osla and Boatman receive and the 'stars' credits. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: NORTH DEVON 1927 See more »

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User Reviews

A nature documentary about an otter
20 September 2017 | by blrnaniSee all my reviews

The first thing that stood out about this film was the wonderful photography that provided a vivid and beautiful portrayal of life in the English countryside, with bubbling brooks, the passing of the very distinctive seasons and the flashes of colour and life from birds, insects and animals. While the people spoiled it, both for their presence and their behaviour, the film was a realistic portrayal of life in the countryside and I do not understand people wanting to shield children from that. A lot of modern problems stem precisely from our distancing ourselves from nature and an understanding of its workings. That is the REAL world and ours is an artificial creation superimposed upon it - ostensibly in an effort to rise above its harsh and savage aspects, but all too often failing to meet the lofty ideals. I saw Bambi in a crowded cinema, when I was 3 or 4, and when that fatal shot rang out my little voice piped up "Mummy, did the hunters just kill Bambi's mother?" My mother responded truthfully... "Bwah!!!" But the film moved on and so did I. In retrospect I think my reaction broke the tension of an audience that was all wanting to bawl their eyes out and they were duly grateful. Kids should learn that nature can be savage at an age when they can assimilate the fact. Bringing one's children up to believe that the universe will conform to their desires may easily lead to disillusionment or the feeling they weren't 'wanting' hard enough. Much better to teach them that the world operates on the principle of cause and effect and that we must assume responsibility for all our contributions (positive or negative) to that process! At the end of the film, I thought it was saying Tarka escaped down to the sea, the 3 bubbles showing his path. But I see other viewers assumed he had stopped breathing and was dead. It's a nice ambiguous ending where I suppose one can read what one wants into it. But as in "Ring of Bright Water", there's always the next generation to carry on the genes. At one point I consoled myself by thinking "Well it's not as savage as bullfighting", but is that even true? It is certainly not to our credit that humans consider it sport to hunt, torture and tear animals apart, using overwhelming odds to virtually ensure a kill. Sport with animals is what the Cretans did, performing acrobatics over and around a ferocious bull to demonstrate their courage and skill without harming the animal at all.

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