When watching a film in which animal actors take part, the ordinary viewer does not know how much work it takes for the members of the film crew to make a dog, cat or even a bird successfully fit into the frame. Dogs are generally considered the most talented film actors – they are obedient, quickly find a common language with professional actors, and can embody almost any director’s idea. No wonder so many films have been shot about these four-legged human friends – light comedies and heavy dramas, action-packed detective stories, and chilling horrors. Surprisingly, you meet very often with the mediocre play of human actors, but films with mediocre playing dogs are hard to remember. Almost all tapes, where dogs are assigned the main (and even a secondary) role, genuinely cling to the soul.
How are films about dogs made?
It is clear that if the main role is prepared for the dog in the film (for example, in the films “Come to me, Mukhtar”, “K-9: Dog’s Work”, “Beethoven”, etc.), then a trained individual with a strong nervous system, exterior, at least partially coincide with the one conceived by the scenario. However, even for the episodes, dogs trained for filming are used. Most often, they are invited to the set after contacting a company that specializes in filming animals in films (along with the owner and trainer). Another option is to assign the selection and training of specific tasks to a trainer. That is, a professional, familiar with the script for the film and the director’s wishes, independently decides which animal will best cope with the task. Another option is to instruct the trainer to train a specific animal, chosen by the director (assistant for actors, another member of the film crew).
It happens that the dog does not have the data necessary for a certain picture. For example, wolves are often required for the plot of the film. In these cases, make-up is used – a special paint for wool and various improvised means (ash, soot, chalk, etc.). If the film contains scenes of the “wolf” fight, then props and even tomato sauce are used as blood. They also change the appearance of the tailed ones with the help of haircuts – they make smooth-haired dogs from fluffy dogs. If necessary, the animal can be aged a little by dyeing the fur on the face white, dusting it with chalk and flour. If the scenario requires a young individual, and only an elderly dog-actor is available, then the coat is given rich and bright shades, achieving shine.
Every dog in the movies has an understudy on the set (similar in exterior). He is attracted in cases where the main actor, for example, gets sick, too tired, or refuses for some reason to complete the task (overcome barriers, “attack” people, jump into the water, etc.). The backup dog is kept on the site in case of an emergency. But often in films for one role, from 2 to 15-20 dogs are removed in turn, as in the films “Return of Mukhtar”, “Night Watch”, “Hachiko: The Most Loyal Friend”. Although through the efforts of professionals, the viewer sees the same animal.
The best movies about dogs
“White Bim Black Ear” – a 2-part film story directed by S. Rostotsky, published in 1977. The film was shot based on the playwright G. Troepolsky, laureate of the USSR State Prize. The main roles were played by V. Tikhonov and a dog-actor, an English setter named Stepka (sometimes Stepka was replaced by a similar understudy – Dandy). Dog with an Oscar The picture was nominated for the Oscar, was awarded the Lenin Prize, the prize of the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary. The plot of the picture unfolds around the Scottish setter Beam (English setters took part in the filming) with a color unacceptable for the breed – white with red speck and black ear. Despite the “wrong” color, the dog found its owner – a lonely and middle-aged hunter Ivan Ivanovich, who was a journalist in the past. At first, the friendship between a dog and a man was not in danger, but a misfortune happened – Ivan Ivanovich’s heart seized (old military shrapnel wound affected). He was urgently taken to the hospital, and Bim was left completely alone. In the future, the dog-faced many misfortunes – slander, wandering, waiting for a meeting with the owner, beatings, train wheels, betrayal. The dog, entrusted to the care of Ivan Ivanovich’s neighbor, now and then left to look for the owner’s trail, nailed to strangers. On his way, there were both kind people and scoundrels (in the book, as in the film, the images of people and the unfortunate dog are shown very brightly, to tears). The final of the picture is very difficult – Bim never met with the recovered owner. What is this picture about? Probably about love and loyalty, and also about human kindness and vile betrayal.
“Kashtanka” – this film directed by R. Balayan was filmed in 1975 based on the work of the great A.P. Chekhov (by the way, many people know the history of the dog Kashtanka thanks to the Soviet cartoon of 1952). This film stars actors L. Durov, O. Tabakov, and a simple mongrel dog (Chekhov wrote about the dog as an admixture of a dachshund with a mongrel). The plot of the picture tells the story of a small dog named Kashtanka, who lived with a rude and unkind carpenter, who beat her up. One day the animal was lost and was picked up by a circus performer. The dog received a new name (Aunt), a new home, and new friends (circus animals). The new owner was affectionate with Aunt, did not skimp on praise, treats, decided to perform with her. But shining in the arena, Kashtanka-Aunt once saw the former owner and could not help but return to him. Not looking at his harsh disposition, the animal returned to the one in whose house it had once grown, whose voice and hands were dearer. This story reminds viewers of the loyalty of dogs, who are ready to forgive their master’s indifference and cruelty. Dogs do not know how to seek benefits, they trust their owner to the end.
“Faithful Ruslan” – otherwise the picture is called “The history of the guard dog”. The film was shot based on the story of the Ukrainian writer G. Vladimov and directed by V. Khmelnitsky in 1992. The film starred a German shepherd male named Baikal. The plot of the picture is based on the life story of Ruslan, a devoted dog, a guard German shepherd who guarded the prisoner camp. Trained to serve the Motherland, Ruslan becomes unnecessary overnight when the order comes to disband the camp. The owner of the dog (the one who trained the dog was with her every day) cowardly refuses his faithful friend, preferring to forget about Ruslan’s existence. The hero of the film, along with other similarly restless service dogs, is left to their own devices – now there is no one to accompany, to guard. Ruslan is looking for food and shelter with the residents of the village, located not far from his former place of service. Every day the dog goes to the station to meet the next train with the prisoners, but he never waits for it. And one day a dog dies at the hands of indifferent, cruel people, a devotee, in fact, both by his country and by his master. People taught him from an early age to protect, to follow the exact commands, and then simply deleted it from life.
“White Captivity” is a US drama directed by F. Marshall in 2005. The film stars Paul Walker and the dog actors (malamutes and huskies). The film is based on the story of the life of sled dogs in the harsh conditions of Antarctica. By the will of fate, the animals remained to live near the coast of the cold Arctic Ocean. Employees of the polar scientific station, to which the dogs were attached, were evacuated, and the animals were left to survive in the silent cold captivity of eternal ice and snow. Unlike the previous two films, in the film “White Captivity” there is no human meanness, the dogs were left unattended by chance (because of the bad weather they could not be transported to the mainland). The animals fought for life for almost six months, only 6 of 8 dogs survived (the viewer can see scenes of their struggle with hunger, frost, and uncertainty).
Hachiko: The Most Loyal Friend is a famous Anglo-American film directed by L. Hallström in 2009. Along with Richard Gere, the audience remembered the dog of the Akita Inu breed (2 dogs of the Japanese Akita Inu breed and 2 of the Shiba Inu played this role). The touching story that served as the basis for the creation of the film actually happened. An Akita Inu dog belonging to a Tokyo professor lived in Japan in the early 1920s. According to the established tradition, the dog met his human friend every day after work, but one day he did not wait – its owner suddenly died of a heart attack. For more than 9 years, the faithful pet was waiting for the owner at the railway station – where he once happily greeted him from work. When Hachiko died, a day of mourning was declared in the country in connection with the death of a loyal dog, who carried love to the owner despite the time.
“Commissar Rex” is an Austrian-made series about a police German shepherd dog, very popular in Russia in the early 2000s. In this picture, the Russian audience remembered the actors T. Moretti and G. Burkhard. And Rex at different times was played by 5 dogs. The most famous Rex is considered to be Rhett Butler, although his other colleagues in the workshop were no less distinguished by their acting in the motion picture. Rex’s story is both simple and touching. The dog loses its owner, a policeman, but is forced to get used to a new owner to further fight against Viennese crime. Gradually, the friendship between man and dog is getting better, Rex stops being sad. But the second owner also dies from a criminal bullet, which plunges the animal into despondency. In the future, Rex changes several more owners, in each of which he finds good features. The series is interesting in that it has a place for drama, humor, and action.
“Kujo” – this picture appeared in 1983 through the efforts of the director L. Teague based on the novel by S. King. Usually, films about dogs are shot in the genre of drama or comedy, but there are exceptions. Kujo is a good-natured St. Bernard who lives in a wealthy and rather carefree family. Once a dog is bitten by a rabies-infected bat, which turns the pet into a real monster. The dog kills the neighbors of its owners – deals with them like a real monster. He does not spare Kujo and the owners, keeping them “at gunpoint”. It an interesting game of a dog at a time when there were still no spectacular special effects – the animal in the frame seems to be really ready to tear everyone to pieces.
“Lassie” is a whole cycle of American films and TV series about a collie dog. From the mid-1940s to the 1990s, viewers saw pictures of a loyal dog trying to come to the aid of its owners. Since it is very difficult to cover the plot of films about Lassie, we can say that friendship between people and pets, mutual assistance, and sincerity lies at the heart of these films. Interestingly, the role of Lassie’s dog was played by 10 dogs at once, but all of them were males.
“Snow Dogs” is an American film directed by B. Levant, filmed in 2002 with K. Gooding Jr. in the title role. Perhaps this picture may in some way resemble the painting “White Captivity”, but there is no such emotional distress in it – as a result, everyone turns out to be safe and sound. The story tells of a dentist who went to Alaska for an inheritance. In addition to the property, the man gets friends – 8 dogs (malamutes and huskies), which he cannot cope with, but cannot leave. As a result, the main character remains on the snowy edge of the peninsula, realizing that it is there that he will be happy.
It is possible to list films with dogs for a very long time – somewhere the four-legged ones played the main role, somewhere they distinguished themselves only in the episode. One thing is for sure: if the play of human actors can be annoying, you can not believe it, then dogs play absolutely sincerely. Animals are laid out in the frame completely, adjusting to the characters of their film colleagues. Films with dogs leave no one indifferent – neither a child nor an adult.