"Benji the Hunted"

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Most kids have a fascination with animals, which is why we use lovable, furry critters so often in children's stories... and then kill them off, one by one.

Benji the Hunted wouldn't be made today; it's unlikely to hold the fleeting interest of the MTV-short-attention-span generation.  There is very little dialogue, no CGI, and no famous actors.  The only star power here is our protagonist Benji, the scruffy mutt with a heart of gold.

Benji is lost in the woods and witnesses a mother cougar get shot and killed by a hunter, leaving behind four adorable orphaned cubs.  The death of the mother, as in Bambi, should elicit enough pathos to carry the rest of the film, but no.  Next thing you know, the cubs themselves are in peril from a hungry wolf, and Benji is caught and tethered by a trapper, and then an eagle swoops down and carries off one of the cubs who is never seen again, and then the wolf is back again after Benji this time, and by the time you see that wolf plunging off a cliff to his doom, you're bawling in rage and horror, wondering who will die next in this movie that sets out to define what Tennyson meant by "nature red in tooth and claw."

Lesson learned:
"For by the hearth the children sit / Cold in that atmosphere of Death, / And scarce endure to draw the breath, / Or like to noiseless phantoms flit"

Benji the Hunted.  Dir. Joe Camp.  Perf. Benjean, Frank Inn, Red Steagall.  Walt Disney, 1987.
Watch the trailer on YouTube here.
Benji: The Hunted

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