Friday, November 21, 2008

OK, I'll admit it, I still love this movie

When I was about six or seven, I was introduced to "The Incredible Journey," a 1963 Disney movie about three pets - two dogs and a cat - who traverse the Canadian wilderness to get from where they are being boarded to their real home. And, to be very, very clear, I am NOT talking about the decades-later "Homeward Bound" remake that is far inferior.

I don't know if I was caught at a very impressionable moment, or if it is my love of animals, or my love of the northern Ontario scenery, or what.... but I have been a total sucker for this movie ever since I first saw it. I have it on videotape - not available on DVD - and, maybe once a year, I pop it in the VCR. Maybe it's something that has just perpetuated itself over the years - good memories of childhood getting reinforced every time I watch.

If you've never seen it, the movie consists largely of the animals getting into life-and-death scrapes on their journey, with a richly voiced narrator and a orchestral score offering the "play by play," such as it is. You can get a taste of it with this YouTube clip, and the others that follow. Some of the shots are pretty incredible when you think about the animal training that was involved (and, yes, some shots are a little cheesy looking back from 2008 - especially the "bear attack" scene). Humans are only side characters, assisting the dogs and cat here and there, and providing the final, if-you-don't-at-least-get-a-little-misty-eyed-you're-not-human scene.

One thing I like is that the movie is not "dumbed down" for kids. There are no gratuitous off-color jokes, and - unlike the 1990s remake - the animals aren't given celebrity voices to spice things up. It's a sweet and simple tale, told matter-of-factly, letting the animals, the scenery, the narrator and the music do their thing.

I'm still waiting for the movie to be released on DVD. In the meantime, I'll have to be content with my well-worn tape, the YouTube clips and the reproduction of the movie poster (above) I bought off Amazon a couple years ago.

The Incredible Journey. Awesome.

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