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The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon (1997)

 
 

A Dog's Life

Buck - The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon (1997)

It's been a few years since I first came across "TThe Call of the Wild" the 1972 version starring Charlton Heston but I remember very clearly the movie which alienated me early on but eventually won me back. It alienated me because I found it curious as in many ways it was a family adventure movie but with aspects which I don't think were family viewing. Now to be honest I expected the same when I watched "The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon" the 1997 adaptation of Jack London's novel because this classic story has elements which are uncomfortable viewing for young children. But whilst "The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon" still has those realistic but unsavoury moments it also has a lot more charm thanks to the calming voice of Richard Dreyfuss who provides the movies narration.

Having lived all his life with Judge Miller Buck is a much loved dog but he is also a prized dog for those who are heading the Yukon trail and one night he is stolen by an unscrupulous handyman. Buck's journey sees him head North where after being beaten by a trainer ends up working for mail man M. Perrault (Luc Morrissette) and his handler Francoise (Robert Pierre Côté) who takes special care of him as he struggles with the tough conditions but Buck soon becomes top dog learning how to tough it out. Over the years Buck changes hands until he is rescued by John Thornton (Rutger Hauer) from a cruel owner who is about to put him down.

Rutger Hauer in The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon (1997)

Now it should come as no surprise to regular readers of my reviews that I have never read Jack London's original novel and my knowledge of the story comes through the various movies which have been made. So whilst I can't say how true this version is to London's original story I can say that it is very similar to the 1972 version and despite having not watched that version in a long time it all came flooding back to me. As such we simply have this story of Buck and how he ended up in the Yukon and eventually in the care of John Thornton. But that story is made up of all these little episodes, from the beatings he got from a cruel dog handler to the episode where Francois makes Buck boots to wear when his feet start bleeding. There are a lot more little episode in the journey of Buck as he becomes a tough dog, leader of the pack and loyal companion.

Now like with the 1972 version "The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon" does leave me a little unsure because this is very much a movie in the style of a family adventure movie. But it has those realistic but uncomfortable scenes from a dog being attacked by wolves, a dog being beaten and plenty more which whilst not as blood thirsty as the 1972 version still would make me question if this is appropriate for children. But then if this isn't a movie made for a family I am not entirely sure who it is for.

Now there are some nice performances in "The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon", Rutger Hauer is solid as Jack whilst Luc Morrissette and Robert Pierre Côté work well together as M. Perrault and Francoise. Then there are the dogs and there are a lot of talented dogs in this movie with the 3 dogs that play Buck being adorable. But for me the star of the movie is Richard Dreyfuss as it is his soothing voice as he delivers the narration which makes the story come to life and keeps you watching.

What this all boils down to is that "The Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon" is a good movie, a surprisingly charming movie but due to elements of the story leaves me wondering exactly who this movie is for.

Tags: Dog Movies

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