Newest Reviews
Advent Calendar, The
Merchant of Four Seasons, The
Love of Jeanne Ney, The
Blonde. Purple
Dirty Ho
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Whisker Away, A
Wild Indian
Whale Island
Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires
Don't Breathe 2
Newest Articles
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
  Dog of Flanders, The Quite possibly the saddest anime ever made
Year: 1997
Director: Yoshio Kuroda
Stars: Brady Bluhm, Robert Loggia, Sean Young, Debi Derryberry, Cliff Wells, Lara Cody, Michael McConnohie, Brianne Siddall, Ryan O'Donahue
Genre: Drama, AnimatedBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 1 vote)
Review: Nello (voiced by Brady Bluhm), a poor but hardworking Flemish orphan boy, loves to draw and is inspired by the work of the great artist Rubens to become a painter. Nello's devoted companion is Patrasche, a dog he rescued from an abusive master and nursed back to health. Together boy and dog run errands around town and help Nello's Grandpa (Robert Loggia) tend the farm, often aided by their closest friend Alois (Debi Derryberry). Sadly, Alois' prosperous and bigoted father (Michael McConnohie) does not want his daughter associating with a lowly orphan boy and tries his best to keep them apart. When Grandpa's health takes a turn for the worse, Nello sets his sights on winning an art contest in the hope that the prize money will save their lives.

Don't let those cheerful chara designs by Yasuji Mori and pretty pastel colours fool you. The Dog of Flanders ranks among the most emotionally devastating viewing experiences of all time; comparable only with Isao Takahata's similarly heart-wrenching war orphan drama Grave of the Fireflies (1988). Its nineteenth century source novel, written by Anglo-French author Marie-Louise de la Ramée under the Flemish pseudonym Oui’da Sebestyen, has been adapted several times by Hollywood from the silent era to 1999. Yet none of those versions had quite the same impact in America and Europe that the 1975 anime television serial did in Japan, South Korea and the Philippines where it remains a much cherished weepie. Twenty-two years later veteran animator Yoshio Kuroda, director of the original serial, returned with this lavish feature length treatment.

Buoyed by state-of-the-art visuals, including a climax that makes transcendent use of early computer graphics, and an uplifting orchestral score by Taro Iwashiro, this handsome, meticulously researched and crafted production was released stateside with a high caliber English dub featuring stellar voice talent. These include gravel-voiced character actor Robert Loggia and Blade Runner (1982) star Sean Young as an older Alois who appears in scenes bookending the main narrative. Loggia is especially good, dredging vast reservoirs of emotion despite a relatively brief amount of screen-time, although the standout remains Brady Bluhm who plays every note of Nello's tragic decline pitch-perfectly.

Japanese animation has a rich legacy of adapting classic European children’s literature. It is one upheld by both of Kuroda's treatments of this affecting tale. His team of animators bring the nineteenth century Flemish setting vividly to life in richly intricate detail. Yet, as mentioned before, the lush beauty of the film’s pastel hued visuals belie the story’s despairing tone. Things start out bad for poor Nello and Patrasche and get progressively worse. While the story casts its child and canine protagonists to the whims of an array of alarmingly implacable, curmudgeonly grownups - from Alois' stubborn social climbing father to the nakedly self-serving and vindictive landlord - it also makes clear that the real villain is a social structure fueled by bigotry and class prejudice. While Ramée/Sebestyen was lacerating the heartlessness of nineteenth century Europe, Japanese viewers both in 1975 and beyond recognized similar flaws in their own rigidly hierarchical social structure. As such The Dog of Flanders serves as a fable urging new generations to stave off a world where the strong bully the weak and suffer no consequences.

Rather than simply wallow in misery, the film is also an ode to the transcendent power of art. Nello's motivation to become a true artist is a desire admittedly hindered by his lowly status yet one so pure it ultimately enables him to transcend whatever cruel injustice fate or society slings his way. Indeed the finale hinges on an art debate as to whether technique is more valuable than the ability to touch the soul. Fittingly the final sequence does precisely that with its magical evocation of Rubens' The Elevation of the Cross and The Descent from the Cross, moving Nello, Patrasche and the viewer to tears.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 677 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

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

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: