Project Disney: The plan is to tackle all of the Disney films, re-reading the classic stories and tales that inspired many of them and to look at how the changes the filmmakers made, the new elements they introduced and the essential elements they kept. We will, of course, be talking about the films as movies as well, saying why we enjoy them and what some of our favorite moments are, but our focus will be on looking at them as adaptations. For the films that are not drawn from any one work we’ll be looking at some of the possible literary influences that we see in the stories. I am participating in Project Disney inspired by Picture Me Reading!
This week's Project Disney is Fox and the Hound based off the book by the same name by by Daniel P Mannix. I was dreading doing this movie vs book. I haven't seen this movie in many years.. mainly because I remember it being very sad. Turns out the book is very hard to find... the physical book. You have to pay almost $100 to own it. Luckily it has been released on ebook again. The book was much different then I thought it was going to be. As you read.. you just live through the eyes of a fox and a hound. It is pure nature and instincts of two animals and how they live. Disney of course adds cute animals to go along with it and even great humans.
The movie starts out with a fox whose mother is shot and killed. This is the same as in the book.. in fact in both the movie and book the fox (who is named Tod) gets adopted into a human home. When you read the book... you read from Tod's point of few so you get to read about how Tod can smell fear and hear the sounds of the hunters and their dogs. In the book... eventually Tod's instincts kick in and he wonders the fields instead of living with the humans. He just could never be tamed. This is probably obvious but Disney also has the animals talking... which of course we need to be able to enjoy the film. They do not speak in the book though we get to read about what their instincts are telling them.
Now the dogs are introduced. Cooper is the hound dog in the story. Disney has him starting out as a puppy learning to to be a hunting dog. Another dog in the film is named Chief and he an old dog who teaches Cooper all the tricks of the trade. The book is so different. Cooper is an old dog by the time we meet him, and Chief is a young pup. They are in total competition on who can impress their master with their hunting skills. There is a big scene in the book where there is a bear that the hunters are tracking and Cooper finds the body of the man who was killed by the bear. When the hunters and dogs find the bear it is Chief who ends up saving the master from the bear. The dogs tear the bear apart (there are several hunting dogs in the book).
Cooper learns soon that Tod is not to be played with but to be hunted. Cooper is tied up by his owner and Tod still comes to visit him to play. Chief notices the fox and chases him all over the place. The owners of the fox and the hound get in a fight and now both Cooper and Tod have to be locked up. Cooper is taken off to a hunting trip. When he comes back both Cooper and Tod are adults. In the book... before Cooper even finds Tod a lot has happened. Tod has found a mate (we get to read all about how foxes find mates an fight over them) and he has a several baby foxes. Really the fox and the hound have a non-existent relationship in the novel.
Tod and Cooper reunite in the film. Cooper tells Tod that he is now a hunting dog and they can't be friends. Chief sees Tod and chases him... Tod runs far away onto some train tracks. Tod ducks into the tracks and Chief falls off with a broken leg (In the book Tod also runs from Chief but Chief is killed by an oncoming train). Cooper and the hunter vows to get revenge on Tod so the. lady who has been taking care of Tod decides to let him lose in the game preserve. Tod of course has no idea what to do since he has always been raised by humans. An owl comes and helps Todout by introducing him to a female fox named Vixy (in the book Tod has many lady friends and a few families all who typically get killed by the hunter).
The hunter and Cooper sneak onto the game preserve and Cooper and Tod get into a big fight. Now the bear that I mentioned earlier appears in the film. The hunter shoots the bear, gets his foot stuck in a trap he set for Tod, and Cooper gets hurt. Tod to the rescue! He rushes down and gets the bear. The fox falls into the river and the hound finds him and doesn't know what to do. The hunter shows up with his shotgun ready to shoot the fox. The dog stands over the fox to protect him and the hunter lets the fox lives and goes home. Cooper and Tod share a smile.
In the book the hunter and hound pursue the fox for many many years. So many years in fact that the fields have now become housing developments and the hunter is being forced into a retirement home from fellow neighbors (mainly because they want to develop his land and because he is an alcoholic). It is discovered that there is still a fox in the area so the hunter is allowed to keep his house a little longer. Of course that fox is Tod. The hunt happens... the fox is not what he used to be so eventually he lays down and waits to die. The hound catches up to him and is very old himself and kills the fox then falls on his body. The fox is skinned and hung in the house. The hunter is forced out of his house but before that happens he takes the hound outside.. puts a blind fold on him and shoots him.
WOW. This movie is deep. There are just so many lessons here, loyalty, what society makes you do, just sad stuff. I still don't love this movie. I want my Disney movies to be happy and magical. With upbeat songs and all that. This book was pretty good. It was not like anything I had read before. I liked just reading about nature. It is hard to find the book though so you will probably have to go through your libraries interloan system like I did.
Be sure to check out my other Project Disney:
The Great Mouse Detective
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Princess and the Frog
Beauty and the Beast
Lady and the Tramp
Alice in Wonderland
The Rescuers Down Under
Oliver and Company
The Little Mermaid
The Jungle Book
The Emperor's New Groove
The Sword in the Stone
The Lion King
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
Winnie the Pooh (2011)
The Black Cauldron
Lilo and Stitch
The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Make Mine Music