Even if you are not an animal lover, a good-old film featuring an animal in the main role can cheer us or warm our hearts as very things can. Throughout the history of cinema, animals have been featured prominently in countless classics. Some of these films have acquired an indelible place in our minds while many others are sadly overlooked. Well-made movies with animals, in fact, have the power to truly inspire and even change our lives in many ways. They can also make us look at our animal friends with a lot of respect.
Today, we will share with you some truly compelling and beautiful animal films that you simply cannot miss. Many of the movies on the list reflect the influence animals can have on the life of a person. Take a look.
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An evergreen classic that has stood the test of time, the 1943-film ‘Lassie Come Home’ is a must-watch for anyone who’s ever had a pet.
The movie is set in Yorkshire when the Depression had caused immense financial pressure on countless families. This is what forces the parents of 11-year-old Joe Carraclough (Roddy McDowall) to sell his beloved dog, Lassie, to the wealthy Duke of Rudling (Nigel Bruce). However, the lovable collie can’t stand to be separated from his friend and goes on a quest to return to her family. It is a dangerous and fascinating journey where the dog depends upon the kindness of strangers to achieve her goal.
The movie had a significant impact in its time. In fact, many families in those days desperately wanted to adopt Lassie after seeing her affection and heroics.
This Steven Spielberg adventure was an epic tale of loyalty, hope, and tenacity set against the poignant backdrop of rural England and Europe during the World War I. The masterful film is told from the perspective of Joey, a lovable horse, and shows a remarkable friendship between him and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him.
When, due to an unfortunate turn of events, the two friends are parted, Joey goes on an unforgettable odyssey – moving through the war and transforming and inspiring the ones he comes across, including British and German soldiers. Powerful, passionate, and deep, ‘War Horse’ is one of the great stories of friendship and war that will surely make you fall in love with horses.
Even if you’ve never had a pet and even if you are not particularly fond of dogs or animals, ‘Hachi: A Dog's Tale’ WILL make you cry. This is a simple yet beautiful true story of a college professor (Richard Gere) who takes in an abandoned dog. Over a period of time, the two go on to form an unbreakable bond and transform each other’s lives.
The film is based on the true story of Hachiko, an Akita dog in 1920s Japan who is still remembered for his extraordinary loyalty to his master. ‘Hachi: A Dog's Tale’ depicted that story wonderfully without being schmaltzy. It is a perfect movie to watch on a weekend with your family. It has a calm pace that soothes viewers and by the end, your eyes are unlikely to be left dry.
An adaptation of wildlife expert Dian Fossey's autobiography, ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ is an influential true story of a determined scientist who tried to protect mountain gorillas from extermination in Africa.
Fossey (played brilliantly by Sigourney Weaver) leaves the United States for Africa, to study and observe the gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda. There she forges a special bond with the gorillas and learns the threat these precious animals are in from poachers who prey on them. To save the gorillas from being wiped out, Fossey organizes a defense league in the hope of safeguarding the lives of the animals. However, this selfless and brave act puts her life in real danger.
‘Gorillas in the Mist’ received five Academy Award nominations but isn’t recalled too often. This is a powerful and must-watch film for anyone who feels strongly about animal conservation.
Looking for a cute pet movie to watch with your children? Try the under-appreciated and delightfully heartwarming "Paulie'”. This is the story of a wisecracking parrot who actually talks and his dogged pursuit to return to his owner.
We learn through flashbacks how the intelligent bird befriended a 5-year-old girl who has difficulty learning to speak. The two form a unique and touching friendship, helping each other along the way. When the two are separated, Paulie follows a 25-year quest – an adventure where he meets and influences several humans – to be reunited with his best friend. Paulie is a sweet and sensitively handled tale with some great lessons about friendship that every family can enjoy.
Based on the book, 'The Incredible Journey' by Sheila Burnford, ‘Homeward Bound’ is the story of three intrepid animals - a young Labrador, a Siamese cat, and an old Bull Terrier – who have been left by their owners at a friend's ranch before they leave for a family vacation. However, the animals feel they have been left for good and embark on a treacherous and extraordinary journey through the California wilderness in the hopes to find and be reunited with their owners.
This is a great adventure film with the three animals as the heroes all the way through. The obstacles they face along the way, and how they eventually overcome those together forms the crux of the story and makes for a great message for children and adults alike.
It is more than likely that you’ve heard of this classic. After all, Free Willy was an extremely popular film in the early 90s and holds a great amount of nostalgia for many. This charming and moving tale was about the friendship between a foster child named Jesse and a moody orca, Willy, at a marine amusement park. As the boy keeps interacting with the whale, he soon realizes the poor animal has been snatched away from his home and seeks freedom.
The environmentally-minded drama delicately touches on the subject of the plight of captive animals and also shows us a beautiful relationship between a human and an animal. It’s an uplifting and enjoyable story that is sure to strike a chord with you.
Togo is the heroic story of a Siberian husky, who led a team of sled dogs across hundreds of miles in extreme weather to deliver diphtheria antitoxin to the town of Nome, Alaska, during an outbreak of the disease in the winter of 1925. The story is based on the true events of the famous “1925 serum run to Nome” where Togo helped save the lives of thousands of people of his town.
Unfortunately, the valiant dog never got credit for his feat then and was largely overlooked due to a misunderstanding. In 2019, his remarkable story was retold in this captivating Disney film starring Willem Dafoe. Amazingly, Togo’s role in the film is played by his own descendant Diesel.
Togo is a terrific adventure film with the Siberian husky as the titular hero. The scenes of him and his owner struggling through harsh conditions and their incredible run are truly stunning. Also, the rapport between the two is truly delightful. The movie deserves to be watched and Togo’s story truly needs to be acknowledged.
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A wonderful, timeless film, ‘Born Free’ is the heartwarming true story of English game warden George Adamson (Bill Travers) and his wife, Joy (Virginia McKenna), who care for three orphaned lion cubs at a national park in Kenya. When two of the larger lions are shipped off to a zoo, the smallest of the three, Elsa, remains with the couple.
The film follows the journey of the couple and their wonderful bond with the lioness. Rather than turning her over to a zoo, George and Joy decide to train her to live like a wild animal in the hope of eventually releasing her into her natural habitat.
Based on Joy Adamson's book of the same name, the Born Free movie is poignant, heartfelt, and emotional. It’s a great family film with a beautiful lesson about man-animal friendship that holds a strong place in the hearts of animal lovers everywhere.
‘Two Brothers’ is a genuinely touching film about two tiger cubs, Kumal and Sangha, who are separated when their father is killed by a hunter. While Kumal is taken to a circus, Sangha is adopted by a politician's son. Both tiger brothers face a tumultuous path growing up and struggle to survive in a world where tigers are captured or killed for sport. Eventually, as fate would have it, the brothers are reunited but as rivals.
This is a beautifully-shot film and shows the magnificent creatures lovingly; the breathtaking close-ups of the twin tigers will certainly leave you in awe. It’s a quiet yet moving tale with very little dialogue but plenty of heart. ‘Two Brothers’ allows the audience to immerse themselves in this unique story of two separated tiger brothers and also makes you appreciate the beauty and pathos of nature.
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