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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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'Eight Below' and canine emotions

From: Prassede Calabi, PhD, animal behavior, Winchester MA

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While I understand Ebert saying [in his review of "Eight Below"] he doesn't "want to know about it" if dogs don't "think, worry and yearn, and love, too" - - please note, they do.

But like dogs, not like humans. That is, they are likely to eat a dead compadre; they can hunt cooperatively but not like a football formation sent out by the 'quarterback' lead dog Maya; they will share food but not likely give gifts to the dying; and so on.

This film is about dog training more than anything else, and fine training, too. But the film misses a huge opportunity, as you note, to show animals as they are and to let animals be.

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"March of the Penguins" succeeds well, despite inaccurate voiceover. The situation is ecologically accurate, the animal behavior is about what it seems to be about (about survival, unaltered by humans), and still people love the film big.

Sadly, neither the situation nor the behavior of the dogs is about what it pretends to be about. And I wish there was a disclaimer, as the second Disney Dalmatians film had, about dalmatians: huskies are highly unsuitable as housepets; they aren't nearly so cute in real life, either.

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