The other day I saw The Scarlet Tunic, a movie adaptation of The Melancholy Hussar, a short story by Thomas Hardy. It’s based on a Thomas Hardy story with ‘melancholy’ in the title, so you know it’s no barrel of laughs. Watching the protagonists meet their tragic fates, all we can say is, “You guys should’ve been in a Jane Austen novel, those end happily. At least you’re not in Jude the Obscure because compared to that, this is a ray of sunshine. If you have to be a Thomas Hardy character, try to be in Far From The Madding Crowd.” I was prepared for the human tragedy, but not for the scene in which the hero’s horse breaks a leg and has to be put down.
This prompted me to compile a list of movies I refuse to see because they have a major animal character and the animal either endures terrible privation or comes to a tragic end.
Umberto D. by Vittorio De Sica (Flag the dog)
Au hasard Balthazar by Robert Bresson (Balthazar the donkey)
Old Yeller (No! Not Old Yeller!)
Movies where the hero’s horse breaks a leg and has to be put down
I could barely watch Babe: Pig in the City because I feared for the pig.
Large-scale human carnage on the screen, no problem; suffering animals, trauma. Near the start of Far From The Madding Crowd, an idiot dog causes a flock of stupid sheep to jump off a cliff, and the newly-impoverished shepherd shoots the dog. I had to stop the DVD for a few minutes.
In his NYT blog Dick Cavett says “the reason the death of a pet is worse than the death of a human is that you have mixed feelings about all people.”
Speaking of animals, our ampon stray cats Jarndyce and Jarndyce have been bringing a friend to dinner.
The cat is pretty, though very dirty.
She/he has some resemblance to Mat, who spent a couple of years outdoors getting to know the local females.
The new cat is well-behaved, so we’ll let her join the feeding sessions. But she/he needs a name, so why don’t you make some suggestions and post them in Comments? My cats’ names are combinations of tennis/literary/historical/TV and movie names so I would be more likely to pick such a mixture.
If your entry is chosen, you get a copy of In the Wilderness by the Spanish writer Manuel Rivas, to be mailed to a Philippine address (Assuming you send the right name and address and the postman finds you). According to the blurb, the Rivas novel has “A glorious cast of animals and birds.” Rivas wrote Butterfly’s Tongue, which was made into a lovely Spanish movie with a tragic ending.
Saffy Safina wishes her father Marat a Happy 29th Birthday.