HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
   
 
  Tarka the Otter Is It Otter In Here?Buy this film here.
Year: 1979
Director: David Cobham
Stars: Peter Ustinov, Spade the Otter, Peter Bennett, Edward Underdown, Brenda Cavendish, John Leeson, Reg Lye, George Waring, Stanley Lebor, Max Faulkner
Genre: Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: North Devon, the year of 1927, and nature is proceeding apace as it does every season. It is spring, so one female otter is ready to give birth, just as the other animals by the river are breeding, and soon little Tarka (Spade the Otter) is born. His mother will do anything to protect him, even standing up to the otter hunters and their dogs, one of whom is Deadlock, a fearsome hound which relishes the thought of killing the animals. However, he will have to wait for another time because his masters move him on, recognising the otter is taking care of its offspring...

Henry Williamson wrote the famous book Tarka the Otter, but it took fifty years or so for the title to be adapted for the big screen. It was director David Cobham who came up with the script, writing with a naturalist also celebrated for his animal stories, Gerald Durrell, and while the result could have been a cutesy revel in all things twitchy and furry, it was actually more intent in showing the audience nature red in tooth and claw. Tarka's father is killed off barely ten minutes in, thanks to the ravenous jaws of Deadlock, making this not a film to show to sensitive otters.

Or sensitive animal lovers for that matter; take a scene early on where a little vole noses through the undergrowth. Before you get the chance to say "Aww..." the critter has been killed by a passing owl, as if to illustrate that while these creatures may have been allowed personalities, they're still going to be at the mercy of not only the elements but whatever is hungry and in the neighbourhood. Only the humans hunt for sport, and while Tarka and his mother avoid their attentions after their initial encounter, come the following year they won't be quite so lucky.

As it turns out, Tarka's mother ends up shot dead by a gamekeeper and hung from a fence, blood dripping from her muzzle, another example of how the film rubs the viewers' noses in the harshness of country life. But Tarka does quite well for himself, travelling downriver and feasting on migrating eels as he goes until he reaches the beach where he gets crabs. To eat. Along the way he avoids poachers and meets a lady otter, but has to fend off the attentions of a much bigger otter which scares him off; not to worry, they do meet again, a rare instance of sentimentality ensuring that true love wins out in an aquatic mammal kind of way.

This is all very well in its cycle of life fashion, but you can see that on just about every nature documentary on television, so this film has an ace up its sleeve. Remember Deadlock? Well, he remembers Tarka and the final third of the story is taken up with our hero's efforts to avoid capture by the otter hunt, which is much the same as a fox hunt and no less cruel. Cobham keeps us on Tarka's side all the way, unusually after all that "what will be will be" approach informing the rest of the film, but makes for a tense climax to what could have been just another natural history documentary. Tarka evades his pursuers, keeping one step ahead until... a curiously ambiguous ending, although we're left in no doubt that the nasty Deadlock has had a shock. The otter strikes back! If that's possible. Music by David Fanshawe.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3504 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: