It's an Otter's Life
"Tarka the Otter" is simply a look at the life of a young otter living by a river which is full of nature from the eels which come through to the herons which visit. But being an otter is not without its dangers as farmers and hunters make things difficult especially for Tarka when he ends up the last of his tribe and forced to keep moving or be killed.
The last time I watched "Tarka the Otter" was at the end of the 90s and I only grabbed a bit of it, a surprisingly graphic scene involving a hunter and a bloody otter which to be honest surprised me as I had this rose tinted memory of watching this movie at school in the 80s, remembering it as a family movie. But times have changed and let me say now for any parent who hasn't watched "Tarka the Otter" in a long time and are thinking that maybe their children would like it, well like with "Watership Down" this doesn't shy away from the truth about nature and mankind with various scenes which might not just shock young audiences now but could be too upsetting.
But as I said "Tarka the Otter" is simply a look at the life of an otter named Tarka with a lot of focus on the dangers. As such we see hunters with their guns trying to kill them, using ferrets to force them out of their homes as well as dogs chasing them. When we are not watching Tarka being hunted and constantly on the move as he has to keep away from danger we actually see him becoming the hunter, getting stuck into various fish and eels which in itself whilst nature is also quite graphic. All of which is beautiful narrated by the authoritative yet warm tones of Peter Ustinov and accompanied by one of those fantastic musical scores which bring to life the various animals we meet, helping to give them personas whilst making Tarka a mischievous animal.
What this all boils down to is that "Tarka the Otter" was the amusing and charming movie I remembered it to be which watching now made me think back to much simpler times. But it is one of those older family movies which don't shy away from the reality and as such some of the graphic scenes of otter's being hunted and killed might be too upsetting for young children and even some adults now.