A Boy Meets A (Very Unique) Dog: Classic Tale for Children
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 04/30/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's a long loved story from the pen of the 19th Century then popular female writer Ouida, and now "A Dog of Flanders" is again treated as a movie for family viewing. Though the result turned out a mixed bag, it's not totally a messed job, and if you think about giving something to a kid, this is not a bad choice. And this film displays something very intersting about the cultural difference between Japan and USA.This famous short story follows a hard-working Belgian boy Nello, whose ambition is to be a great painter, namely this case, Reubens. Through the boy is loved by his grandfather Daas and his girlfriend Aloise, and not least his Bouvier dog Patrasche, his life is not an easy one, bringing milk to the town every day with Patrasche pulling the cart. One day, he is "found" by a graet master of painting Michell (Jon Voight with a hevey accent), and Nello learns from the master that there is an annual contest for aspiring painters. But while he was trying to finish his work, a tragic accident happens to his life.The film makes great changes to the original short story (especially the ending), but how you respond to that liberty will depend on your judgement. The fact that the critical reaction was at best very luckwarm proves that adults viewers might find this one very ordinary and mundane, and probably the film deserves better treatment. Though the locations are perfect, the story looks too banal, and -- this is more important -- it doesn't know its audience. Parents might be uncomfortable to see a dog is beaten by a drunken guy, or most of all, the secret of Nello's parentage is revealed. In fact, Nello's mother comes back home in the opening blizzard scene with a baby Nello -- clearly an echo of "Oliver Twist" -- but some kids (under the age of 3-6) may find it hard to understand why she think she is "disgraced" (the film uses this word at the end). Strangely Victorian here, but anyway, not a big matter, though.As a whole, "A Dog of Flanders" is a satisfactry movie for older kids, and though it shows its hands too predictable way, the story itself is good, and it conveys surely its messages to kid's heart. The leading actors are in good form, and the dog is ... er ... very unique. so if you like dogs, you may be interested. And for adult viewers like me, it is a good thing to see Cheryl Ladd (ex-Chalie's Angels) again.[ABOUT THE DIFFERENT ENDING OF THE FILM: COULD BE A SPOILER ... MAYBE NOT]The Japanese version of this film has a different ending, which imdb doesn't seem to record. Japanese version doesn't have the last 5 minutes of the American counterpart, making the ending faithful to the original book. This is because this story is a vastly loved one in Japan owing to its very popular TV series made about 20 years ago, and every Japanese viewer knows its original ending. Producers, therefore, must have judged it unwise to "compromise" its ending as its new American version does. The actual difference is as follows:
Japanese version: Nello meets his mother again; they hug each other; (then the film directly jumps to the final cut of American film showing statue of Ruebens); two lights, presumably souls of them, going up to the Heaven; end credit rolls up.This is a minor thing, I know, but it is intersting to note this differnce between Japanese and American sensibility. And if you like this one, you may watch older version made in 1959. There is a Japanese animated version (2000) too, and this fact testifies to its popularity of this story. The original writer Ouida (a pen name for Louise De LaRamee, Bristish writer) herself loved dogs so much, and she is known for her life surrounded by dogs in Italy when she was old and impoverished. Check out the book too, if you like."
Heartwarming film for the whole family
G. Roger Priddy | Walnut Cove, NC USA | 04/26/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A Dog of Flanders is a touching film, and well shot with beautiful scenery. No it's not a masterpiece, far from it, but it is a solidly good family film, you don't see very often now-a-days. The two main children characters are acted well by the young actors and actresses, Warden is good as the aging grandfather, and John Voight, one of my favorite, is once again superb in his role as a very talented artist, Michael. The film's title is A Dog of Flanders, but don't be fulled, it really isn't about the dog (who was cute) that much. It's more about a poor, young boy (Nello) with lots of artistic dreams, overcoming obstacles to be the best that he can be. The ending is good if a bit predictable (my father knew how it would end only a few minutes into the movie). A Dog of Flanders is good, clean, enjoyable, family fun. It doesn't make your brain frazzle with its storyline, and no Oscar winners are here, but I'll take it any day over these shoot-em-up, cuss-em-out, vulgar movies hollywood is churning out by the minute today."
Really sweet and winsome
D. M Paul | Mineral Wells, WV USA | 10/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It starts out slow with what looks to be a really boring rainy village dog film but turns out to be a wonderful and original movie. The acting is great on all hands but especially by the lead actor who plays Nello. Adults and children alike will enjoy it. There is a fight scene with a cleaver which though not bloody at all could frighten young children. Also a scene with a gypsy fortune teller that as achristian I zipped over. It is a sweet story that is very inspiring."
the commish | the Heartland, USA | 12/21/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although different from the four previous versions, A Dog of Flanders(1999) basically follows the same story line. This version showed less dog than the rest, but was more acurate in depicting the breed, as the filmmakers use three wonderfully shaggy Bouviers des Flanders for the role of Pastrache. Jeremy James Kissner's portrayal of Nello is lifeless and exhibits little emotion making it was hard to connect with his plight. Although I prefer the 1959 version (David Ladd's Nello was more believable, and he used the correct Belgium terms for grandfather and mother), a wonderful performance by John Voight makes this movie worth watching."
Very poignant but very good.
D. R. Schryer | Poquoson, VA United States | 12/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Frankly I'm surprised that a film this poignant could have been made in this era when violence and special effects, rather than plot and compelling characters, seem to be the cinematic norm. Nevertheless, this outstanding film was made quite recently and it is outstanding. The story is quite sad much of the time, but it does conclude happily. If you are not too sophisticated to enjoy a well made tear-jerker, I think you'll like this film."