Set in 19th-century Belgium, this classic tale, based on the Flemish novel by Oui'da, celebrates the affectionate bond between an innocent boy and his faithful dog. The stunning animation, a masterful combination of traditional and computer-aided animation, captures the natural splendor of the Flanders countryside and recreates the spirit of this classic story that has captivated audiences world wide for more than 130 years. In fact, the popularity of The Dog Of Flanders led the local Belgian government of Flanders to dedicate a statue to Nello and Patrash in 1985, immortalizing their devotion to each other.
There are many anime that have the ability to bring one to tears, for any number of reasons. Barefoot Gen, Grave of the Fireflies, Clannad: After Story, Air, Ushiro no Shoumen Daare, etc, etc, etc, are but some of the titles that have tried to make the audience sympathise with their tales, some with more success than others.
Where Flanders no Inu (or, to give it it's correct moniker, A Dog of Flanders), differs from those stories though, is that it's all been done before...
For those of you who don't know, the story known as "A Dog of Flanders" was originally written by Ouida (the pen
name of English novelist Maria Louise de la Ramé), and was first published in 1872. For over 135 years the tale has captivated the hearts and minds of audiences the world over, and has been adapted for TV and movies no less than 8 times. The anime movie itself is an adaptation, not only of the novel, but of the TV series as well, with both the TV anime and this movie having the same director (Kuroda Yoshio).
The tale, for those of you who don't already know the story, is set in a small town called Hoboken, near the city of Antwerp in Belgium, and is about a young boy named Nello, who has lost his mother, and comes to the town to live with his Grandfather. One day, Nello finds a dog that has been almost beaten to death. He decides to care for it, and calls it Patrasche.
The story is very much in keeping with the novel and, although it's far more abridged than the TV series, it still maintains the essence of the tale. A Dog of Flanders is not simply about love and friendship against the world, it's also a social commentary on how the rights of man seem to work against a scale called money - something which isn't really an uncommon theme, but there's a reason this story is called a classic. The plot makes for pretty powerful reading, however the transfer to anime has served to enhance the story in several ways, the most obvious being accessibility. Like Barefoot Gen and Grave of the Fireflies, Flanders no Inu makes the inequities and personal trials, triumphs and tragedies that little bit harsher than normal by giving them a "cartoon" setting.
Animation is, on the whole, very good for the movie. The character have a distinctly European flavour about them, and the animation is very smooth overall, however both can look dated compared to more recent anime. There are some blips, however these are easily overlooked as there is often enough going on to keep your attention. The backgrounds are delightfully rendered, with much of the rural setting possesing a quaint charm which adds to the movie as a whole. There are, again, some minor inconsistencies in how things look, however these do no impact on the movie in any way (so don't worry about them).
One thing I did like about the movie was how much more representative the changing seasons were to the events in Nello's life, something which is often missed when reading the book.
Sound is extremely good throughout the movie. The voice actors are very good in the Japanese dub, however this movie is actually better in English, especially as the original story is English so nothing is lost in translation. The English seiyuu have been chosen very well on the whole, however there is a bit of woodenness about some of the characters at certain points (unfortunately the same can be said of the Japanese dub as well).
The music has a generally pastoral feel to it, and is very much in keeping with the rural setting of the story. There are some scenes where the music not only adds to the impact, but acts like a punch to the stomach, the most memorable tracks being the tragic yet triumphant score during the scene with Patrasche and Nello in the church, and the ED "When I Cry" (sung by Dianne Reeves), an original piece that was written specifically for the movie.
As far as characters go, the movie isn't a patch on the book (so let's get that out the way right now), nor is it a rival for the TV series (which is 52 episodes long and part of the World Masterpiece Theater. This movie, like others before it, is very much an abridged version of the story, and as such it loses something in terms of it's characters. However, even with this disadvantage the characters are still as lovable, joyous, hateful, spiteful, proud, envious, sad, etc, as they are in the other versions, and this comes across to the viewer in a very direct manner, with very little melodrama needed (thankfully). Others may not see it that way, however it's important to remember that the story comes from another age altogether, and that life was much harder then, with societal lines far more definite and rigid, and above all, enforced.
Anyone who's read and "enjoyed" A Dog of Flanders knows there's no real way to for me to give the story a nice spin, and truth be told, I shouldn't. This is a very sweet, but also very cruel tale, and whilst it's easy to make light of it because it's a story, the same thing happens every day somewhere in the world - even now. Like I said, the novel is also a social commentary, with money and status being the enemies of one's basic humanity.
I loved the book, and I really do like this movie. It's a far better adaptation than some of the live-action efforts I've seen, even though it has it's own flaws. That doesn't mean that anyone who likes the novel will love the movie though, as you may find that your favourite bits have been removed.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a good cry. There are those who claim that nothing will move them to tears, yet I have proof that this movie is enough to turn hard-nosed, world weary, 30+ year old rugby players (my old team mates), into blubbering heaps, and nobody I've ever shown the movie to has managed to maintain a dry eye come the end. It's up to you if you want to try it, although it is said that a good cry can work wonders.
Also, if you're a dog lover then you may want to keep those tissues handy. You have been warned.
This is nothing like Barefoot Gen, GotF, or Ushiro no Shoumen Daare. There are no wars in this tale, no armies bent on world domination, no bombs, no guns. This is more horrific than those movies in a certain sense, as this is an example of what was occuring during peacetime. For that reason alone it stands apart from these and many other anime, especially as the concept of one being outcast is, in this tale, not a cue for god-like superpowers, or for multiple girl/women to fall out of the sky, etc, etc.
Over the decades the story has been referenced and parodied by so many shows, anime and otherwise, a testament to it's influence in both Eastern and Western media, as well as to it's enduring appeal worldwide. There are many reasons why this story is called a classic, and has been a beloved work of fiction for well over a century (there's even a statue to Nello and Patrasche in the town of Hoboken, Antwerp).
What really brought it home to me though, was the fact that this is simply a tale about a boy and his dog, and of the loyalty they had to each other.
I've watched many movies throughout my childhood. Namely the Pokemon movies, some Disney movies (namely Aladdin), and others. But none of them have really made a huge impact on me because of the limited time they have to get made. Characters aren't always developed, plots are too narrow, and some just turn out plain terrible...that is, until I stumbled upon THIS. I read about it on a blog and I thought "This looks interesting. Maybe I'll watch it." And right when I did...I WAS BAWLING LIKE A BABY AT THE END!!! I FOUND MY NUMBER ONE MOVIE EVER!!!
Movies I've watched in my lifetime never really made an impact on me, and I read good reviews about this one...and I'm glad to say, I never expected it to be THIS awesome and...THIS ONE MOST CERTAINLY HAS!!! This movie has left me an emotional wreck, and I am glad to say that this is my all-time favorite movie ever made!
So the story's about Nello, a good-hearted young boy in 19th century Belgium who lives a poor but happy life with his grandfather Jehan. He saves a dog, Patrasche, from a cruel and abusive owner and keeps him as his own. They develop a VERY strong brotherly bond. Nello also has Alois (pronounced Ah-Lou-Ah in Flemish), a young girl from a rich family whose father doesn't like Nello for his poor upbringing. Nello wants to become an artist just like Peter Paul Reubens, but tragedy strikes Nello one after another and his bond with Patrasche is put to the test. Simple enough, yes? Let me tell you this: This isn't some cheesy Disney movie with a cheesy happy ending! This movie will leave you crying buckets at the end!
Unlike most movie characters who don't always get explored, everyone in this movie feels complete, even the side characters who all have their own personality and contribution to the story. All of them have subtle backgrounds that you can easily figure out just by looking at them. All of them have their own personality and they're never incomplete. The soundtrack is also wonderful, always knowing when to be joyful and sweet and sad and heartbreaking. The music at the end left me broken to tears. The movie itself is just one big tearfest. When one grievingly heartbreaking scene ends, yet ANOTHER one comes right after! When will it end!? The end of course!
The only things that aren't all that are the visuals and some of the voices in the Japanese version. But hey, the movie was made in 1997 so of course they're not gonna be pretty and sparkly all the time. But they do, however, do an awesome job at making the capital of Belgium come to life in animated form, more specifically the city hall with all the flags on it. And I will say this: When it comes to the voices and casting, I think I prefer the English dubbed version over the Japanese because some of them sound a bit shaky, like Mrs. Nulette. In the Japanese version she sounds like she has strep throat. Jehan sounded like he had a sinus infection. The only Japanese voices I liked in the movie were Alois, George, and Paul. They were perfect. But I hear that the Japanese version has scenes that were cut out of the dub, so in respect to that, I'll prefer the Japanese over the English version.
Despite the slightly old visuals and slightly shaky Japanese voice acting, these should be NO reasons to NOT watch this adorable, beautiful, heartbreaking, and awesome movie! This movie shows that life is fragile and not eternal, and it deals with serious issues such as death, poverty, and classism. It also emphasizes the benefits of honesty, friendship, work ethic, creativity, and knowledge, and how the ignorance of various people's actions and thoughts can really shape the person. All of you MUST see this wonderful movie! I would love to own it myself, but it's both out of print and appallingly expensive! It's the best movie I ever saw, and the best movie ever made!
Do not let the above synopsis fool you, while the relationship between dog and boy certainly is affectionate PLEASE do not watch this film expecting a light-hearted, heart-warming, Homeward Bound-esque story because this film is certainly far from it. ;-;
Flanders no Inu (Dog of Flanders) is based on the book by Marie Louise de la Ramée, it has been widely read and also adapted into several films and anime (MAL actually lists two series). This film is pretty much a compacted version of said series.
I found the story very... honest. It addresses poverty issues that occurred back in those days and it really doesn't beat
about the bush.
The film was quite a downer, to be honest. His best friend's father keeps stopping his daughter from seeing him, Patrasche's old abusive owner tries to reclaim him, forcing Jehan to pay him off with their rent money. Jehan dies, Nello is accused of starting a fire, he loses an art competition for money that will save his life, no one wants his milk delivery business anymore, he gets kicked out of his home, he walks around in the snow with no shoes on and in the end he freezes to death in front of paintings that he has forever longed to see in a church with Patrasche.
The art was very good, although it did get a bit sloppy in some areas, as is wont with many anime films and series.
I found the sound very moving, it certainly made the ending scenes more hard-hitting.
I feel that there could have been more character development with Aloise and her father, especially as to why he dislikes Nello so much. I think it would've been nice to see more of Nello's two other friends as well. But considering this had the time limit of a film, I'm sure there simply wasn't enough time. I haven't seen the series, so I'm also sure that there's more character development in there.
It was a good film, yes. Did I enjoy it? Yes and no. I enjoyed it for its honesty. But overall... no. I'm not saying that I wanted a happy ending... but it could've been less... pathetic, to be honest. Not pathetic as in crap, but pathetic as in... let this poor kid go with some dignity, eh?!
Overall, it's definitely one to watch if you can stomach VERY unhappy endings. But it's also nice to watch for those playful and fun scenes when things are still going right for our Nello. :]
Story: This movie will bring you too tears, if not than you have no heart.
This is a story about a boy and his dog and the wonderful relationship they have together. It is the most emotional film i have ever watched
Art: Since this film was released in 1997 the art in this movie is amazing. The colors and animation is just perfect throughout the whole movie. It really casts the mood.
Sound: probably the best part of the movie the music was very well chosen and fits perfectly with every scene. There is not one song that was out of place, or not well chosen. Some
of the best music associated with a film i have ever seen.
Character: This is THE best part of the whole movie. The characters are so likeable. It is impossible not to like the main character, and feel his emotions as he is. Every character is perfect
Enjoyment: One of the best movies i have ever watched.
I am really suprised more people have not seen this movie. This is a hidden gem, and ranks among that of grave of the fireflies. In my opinion this is better than grave of the fireflies, and i enjoyed it much more, as it is a sad story set outside of war. Which makes it all the more real and preventable