Monday, January 28, 2013

The adventures of Milo and Otis

On a rainy afternoon on our holiday, we hired an animal film called ‘Milo and Otis’. It seemed harmless enough – an adventure of a (pug) dog and a (cute) ginger kitten who are (inevitably) best friends and then (obviously) get separated and spend the next hour going through exciting animal-related adventures to find each other.

I’d never heard of the film and on the face of it, it seemed harmless enough. Obviously dated (it was released in 1989 with a voice-over by Dudley Moore) it seemed to be out of the same stable as;
  • Incredible Journey (which Audrey and Eli loved) – a cat and two dogs go on an adventure
  • Storm Boy – an excellent film where boy befriends a Pelican (filmed in South Australia)
  • Tarka the Otter
  • Ring of Bright Water (also about an Otter – but don’t mention the ending)
  • Mr Forbush and the Penguins (an obscure one starring John Hurt) which I loved but the kids haven’t experienced yet!
As the film progressed though there were some decidedly odd scenes. There was for instance a fight between the dog and a bear which seemed all too realistic (the bear bit the dog on the spine) and part of the film where the cat got its paw gnawed by the bear. Remembering all this was made in a time before CGI. After a few uncomfortable scenes I ‘googled’ the film about 20 minutes in while the kids stayed glued to the tele. It transpired that the film was originally shot and released in Japan (where it was a HUGE hit). Because of that it was picked up, re-edited and released in English.

After the release questions started to be asked about the levels of animal cruelty in the film – there is a rumour that no less than 20 kittens died during the making of the film!

The kids were oblivious to this, but it meant that I watched the rest of the film from wholly different perspective. At one point the kitten (Milo) gets pecked (to death?) by a hoard of seagulls and then to escape ‘jumps’ off a cliff. The fall from the cliff is edited to show only the last 5 metres or so, but I was now watching closely to see how the cat landed (badly). Obviously in the film it all ends well (the cat washes up unharmed on dry land) and in a saccharine coated ending both Milo and Otis meet girl cats and dogs and father kittens/puppies respectively. Ahhhhhh.

There’s a dubious statement on the end credits that says that the animals were supervised during filming, but nothing about animals not being harmed/killed(?) during filming.

The ‘Directors Cut’ of the movie would no doubt be horrific and to be honest if you filmed half of the scenes with your phone and posted them to youtube you’d be arrested. Audrey and Eli enjoyed the film, but I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy them a copy ("Murder" and Otis would perhaps have been a better title!)

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