WHITE FANG (1991)

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Christopher

I knew this was a book but I don’t have any memory of this movie in my life. I’m glad Elizabeth recommended it though ‘cause I think it was fun to watch. I was a little disappointed with the story. I felt like it was going to be more about Jack and White Fang as a team instead of them being together being the finale but I think once I realized that was what it was going to be I warmed up to it.

I would be very interested in reading the book. I think it’s more just from White Fang’s perspective which sounds interesting. He was by far the more interesting character. Jack was pretty boring to me.

Elizabeth

When I saw someone in The Last Waltz play the mouth harp it immediately reminded me of White Fang. I hadn’t thought about White Fang in a really long time, but the more I thought about it the more antsy I was to watch it. It’s a movie I’ve surely seen about a dozen times but probably hadn’t seen in like 18 years or something.

Watching movies or TV shows like that is always a crazy experience to me. Before we watched White Fang the other day, if you had asked me about the plot, all I would have been able to say was “It’s about a boy and his dog.” If you had asked me what the music was, I wouldn’t have even known where to start. But as soon as White Fang started and the music started, I suddenly remembered pretty much the entire musical suite as if I had been listening to it everyday. And with each scene I would get flashes of the scene coming next, which I really didn’t realize I remembered. It was crazy.

But anyway, about White Fang. Watching it now as an adult, and knowing my child self and what I could and couldn’t watch, I sort of don’t know how I loved White Fang and watched it so much. That’s not to say it’s not an amazing movie, because it is. It follows White Fang, a wolfdog (we only really know him to be a wolf at first until we’re told later he’s a wolfdog) and most of his journey through life. It’s intercut with the story of Jack (Ethan Hawke), who’s trying to get to and then make it on his father’s gold claim in Alaska.When we first meet White Fang, he’s a sweet little puppy living with his mom in a little wolf den. But while his mom is out hunting for food, she gets shot and has to literally crawl back to the den. While whimpering!! And then White Fang comes out and the camera shows us a close up on his mom’s face as she DIES. And then White Fang cries and whimpers, rests his head on her dead body, and lays there with her until he’s completely buried in snow. It makes me cry just typing this shit out. And the thing is, I remember that scene and his mom dying. But I guess I somehow handled it as a kid? I remember Mufasa’s death in The Lion King being traumatizing so I really have no idea how I made it through this one. White Fang goes through a lot of shit in his life, not limited to being captured and tortured by evil townspeople who train all of his tameness out of him so he can dog fight. So that’s another thing. I remember those dog fighting scenes (and there’s kind of a lot). And I remember that it was sad and awful because White Fang was a sweet doggy who was being forced to fight by mean people. Buuuuut I had no idea these were fight-to-the-death situations. I was used to seeing my own dogs play fighting when I was growing up and I think I thought these scenes were pretty much the same thing. Even though these scenes really are pretty brutal.

White Fang and Jack meet up throughout White Fang’s life. Jack first sees White Fang as a puppy after he’s lost his mom. A while later, while with his mentor and friend Alex (Klaus Maria Brandauer) they spend time with a Native American tribe where Alex is friends with the chief. By then, the chief and his family have found and taken (and named) White Fang and are using him as a work dog. Jack approaches White Fang to pet him but is quickly reprimanded by the chief, who tells him that dogs are for work and that humans are gods to dogs. Jack is put off by that, who pretty much argues that even if that’s true that doesn’t mean you can’t be nice to the dog. Later on after that, Jack comes across White Fang at the end of a dog fight, barely alive, and Jack saves him. Earlier, with the tribe, White Fang saved Jack from a pretty terrifying (though unrealistically slow) bear, so Jack saving White Fang makes a lot of sense and is also pretty cute. Jack nurses White Fang back to health and slowly undoes all the terribleness that other people had done to the point that White Fang slowly trusts him, then slowly likes him, then eventually love him.

I really do love this movie. I love that, like the book, White Fang really is about White Fang (who doesn’t talk, CHRISTOPHER) and his life and everything he goes through. Jack’s story is interesting but really is only necessary because the movie needs some dialogue to sort of anchor White Fang’s scenes. A lot of terrible things happen to White Fang and Jack, but in the end they’re straight up soulmates and once they find each other for good, their lives are so much better and they basically live happy ever after. AMAZING!!

Also . . .

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JUST LOOK AT DIS LIL PUPPPPYYYYYYYYYYY

 

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