Monday, January 3, 2011

30-Day Challenge, Day 2

A Favorite Movie

I don't usually post about movies on this blog, so this will be a little different. ;-) You're probably expecting me to post about a period drama, but since I already post about those on my other blog, I decided to go with another kind of movie. I had a hard time deciding between It Happened on 5th Avenue (a new favorite) and Balto (an old but recently renewed favorite). I decided to go with Balto. And yes, it's a cartoon, but most of you know I love animated films.

Balto is based on the famous story of the little town in Alaska that fell under a terrible epidemic of diphtheria, and of a dog who saved the day by bringing in the medicine despite hindering weather conditions. The movie keeps only to the very bare bones of the true story (in most ways it's terribly inaccurate), but it makes up for it by an exciting story and excellent characterization.

Balto is an outcast. His heritage is a mix of dog and wolf, and most of the dogs, particularly the lead sled dog runner Steele (who is, in my opinion, Gaston re-incarnated ;-) ) , treat him as inferior because of this. Everyone, except a beautiful husky named Jenna and a comical goose named Boris, fail to see the strength and speed that will become Balto's greatest assets.

Panic descends when diphtheria sweeps over the town of Nome and begins claiming lives. The hospital runs out of medicine to treat the illness, and the weather is too heavy to allow anything but dogsled to go fetch and bring back the medicine. Steele's team is chosen for this, even after Balto proves himself to be the fastest runner. However, when the sled team team is reported lost in the blizzard, Balto determines to go find them and bring back the medicine that will save the town of Nome. It will be a journey full of peril on all sides-- weather, wild animals, natural forces...and Steele.

Balto is definitely a lovable hero. He is faced with odds, not only external but also internal-- he feels unwanted and useless, but he does not let this interfere with doing what is right. He also has a very patient and selfless heart, and does not fight to defend himself against Steele, but only to defend those weaker than himself. He is aware of others' needs. When he makes the decision to go and find the lost team, Boris exclaims in dismay, "He's going out into freezing cold to find a dog he doesn't like to bring medicine back to a town that doesn't like him!" And yet Balto does it, not to prove himself, but to save the children of the town and the lost dogs, even though they never gave him any reason to care about their well-being.

Muk and Luk
Balto also has its share of endearing characters. There's Jenna, who is quiet and gentle, and yet surprisingly brave; she is faithful to her owner Rosy and supportive of Balto. Boris is a hilarious Russian snow goose that can't fly; he hates bears; he is usually outwardly skeptical but stands behind Balto and encourages him; he also has some of the best lines in the film. Muk and Luk are two fat, fluffy, adorable polar bears whose oddity is that they can't swim (or at least, they think they can't.) Muk speaks in a cute British accent and Luk doesn't speak at all; they love Boris and are very simple, yet lovable.

Balto was a favorite of my sisters' and mine when we were little, but we only just got a hold of a copy again and watched it as adults. I think I like it better now than I did then! It is technically a kid's movie, but I'm allowed to like a kid's movie, right? It has all the qualities for a good film-- strong storyline, good characters, thrilling character arcs and climaxes, stirring music (James Horner ;-) see previous post ;-) )...Unfortunately, the film didn't do well in the Box Office (possibly due to the fact that it is a Universal picture, not Disney, and was overshadowed by Disney's Lion King, which came out the same year) and isn't sold in stores anymore. We borrow it from the library, but it has also been uploaded online.

Here's the trailer... beware, it gives away a lot of the story, but at least it doesn't give away the main climax. ;-)


Michaela ~ said...

Heeeyyy...I remember that movie! My, its been years and years since I've seen it though. I hardly remember what its about. ;) The biggest impression it made on me was when I was a little older, and saw the "stuffed" Balto at the Natural History museum. ;) "Hey look, its Balto, like in the movie!" hehe

Anonymous said...

Balto was always a childhood favorite.... we only got to watch it at my aunt's house every once in a great while!
As for me, I like the movie, "The Printing" - a must watch for every Christian!

Melanie said...

Oh yes, "The Printing" is excellent!! I love that one!

@Michaela, is that the museum in Cleveland? That must have been neat, to see Balto!

Michaela ~ said...

YES its the museum in Cleveland - I've been there a couple of times. :) You've never visited??

Melanie said...

No, I haven't... :-/ I'd like to though!

Lilly said...

I LOVE Balto!!!!!!

Teddy said...

"Baaaallllllllltooooooooo!" (Picture me as Boris) =-) "Not dog, not wolf, he's a HERO!"
*Miniature shriek* He's so cute!

Melanie said...

Hee hee!
"We lauv you, Uncle Boris!" :-D :-D :-D

Teddy said...

*Gaspth* "We were SWIMming!"