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French release poster
|Directed by||Simon Wells|
|Produced by||Steve Hickner
|Written by||David Cohen
Roger S.H. Schulman
|Music by||James Horner|
|Editing by||Sim Evan-Jones
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||78 minutes|
Balto is a 1995 American live-action/animated historical adventure film directed by Simon Wells and produced by Amblimation. The film is based on a true story about the dog of the same name who helped save children from the diphtheria epidemic in the 1925 serum run to Nome. The live action portions of the film were filmed at Central Park.
An old woman (Miriam Margoyles) and her granddaughter are walking through Central Park, looking for a memorial statue. As they seat themselves for a rest, the grandmother tells a story about Nome, Alaska back in the year 1925, which shifts the film from live action to animation.
Balto (Kevin Bacon) is a wolfdog hybrid living on the outskirts of Nome with his best friend, a Russian goose named Boris (Bob Hoskins), with occasional visits from two polar bears, Muk and Luk (both voiced by Phil Collins). Being half-breed, Balto is rejected by both dogs and the humans alike in town; his only friend there is a red husky named Jenna (Bridget Fonda), whose attention Balto is challenged for by the town's favorite sleigh dog, Steele (Jim Cummings), a fierce, overly competitive, self-absorbed husky.
One night, the children of Nome - including Jenna's owner, Rosy (Juliette Brewer) - begin to fall ill with diphtheria. Severe winter weather conditions prevent medicine to be brought by air or sea, and the closest rail line ends in Nenana. A dog race is held to determine the best dogs for a sleigh team to get the medicine. Balto enters and wins, but is disqualified thanks to Steele. The team departs that night with Steele in the lead. The team picks up the medicine successfully, but on the way back, conditions deteriorate, and the disoriented team ends up stranded at the base of a steep slope, knocking the musher unconscious. When word reaches None, Balto sets out in search of them, followed by Boris, Muk and Luk. On the way, they encounter a huge grizzly bear, which nearly kills them. Jenna arrives to save them, but is injured in the process, prompting Balto to have Boris to take her, Muk and Luk back to Nome while he continues on alone.
Balto eventually finds team, but Steele does not want his help and a fight ensues, ending with Steele falling off a cliff. Balto takes charge of the team, but Steele, refusing to concede defeat, throws them off the trail and they lose their way again. While attempting to save the medicine from falling down a cliff, Balto himself falls. When he awakens, he has lost all hope, but when a large, white wolf appears, and he notices the medicine crate still intact nearby, he realizes that his part-wolf heritage is a strength, not a weakness, and drags the medicine back up the cliff to the waiting team. Using his advanced senses, Balto is able to filter out the false markers Steele created. After encountering further challenges, Balto and the sleigh team finally make it back to Nome. A pity-playing Steele is exposed as a liar and abandoned by the rest of the dogs. Reunited with Jenna and his friends, Balto is given new-found respect from both the dog packs and the humans and a chance to visit Rosy, who thanks him for saving her life.
The film shifts back to the live-action present, where the old woman and her granddaughter find the memorial, which commemorates Balto, and she explains that the Iditarod trail covers the same path that Balto and his team took from Nenana to Nome. The old woman, who is actually Rosy, whispers "Thank you, Balto. I would have been lost without you", before walking off to join her granddaughter as the sun shines upon the Balto statue.
Cast and characters 
- Kevin Bacon as Balto, a young adult male Wolfdog; being half husky and half wolf. His father was a Siberian husky while his mother, Aniu, was a wild, white wolf.
- Bob Hoskins as Boris, a Russian snow goose who considers himself Balto's caretaker.
- Bridget Fonda as Jenna, a young, beautiful female Husky and Balto's love interest.
- Juliette Brewer as Rosy, Jenna's owner. She is a kind, excitable girl, and when she falls ill, Balto does everything he can to save her and the other children.
- Miriam Margolyes portrays the elderly Rosy in the live action sequences. She tells her story to her granddaughter.
- Jim Cummings as Steele, an Alaskan Malamute and the main antagonist. He is Balto's rival who has a crush on Jenna.
- Phil Collins as Muk and Luk, a pair of Polar bear cubs.
- Jack Angel as Nikki, a Siberian Husky and a member in Steele's team.
- Danny Mann as Kaltag, another member of Steele's team.
- Robbie Rist as Star, another member of Steele's team.
- Sandra Dickinson as Dixie, a female Pomeranian and one of Jenna's friends who adores Steele. Dickinson also voices Sylvie, a female Afghan Hound and Jenna's other friend, and Rosy's mother.
- Lola Bates-Campbell as Rosy's granddaughter, who also appears in the live-action sequences. She is accompanied by her dog Blaze.
- William Roberts as Rosy's father
- Donald Sinden as a doctor
- Bill Bailey as a butcher
- Garrick Hagon as a telegraph operator.
- Directed by Simon Wells
- Produced by Steve Hickner
- Screenplay by Cliff Ruby, Elana Lesser, David Cohen and Roger S.H. Schulman
- Executive Producers Steven Spielberg and Bonne Radford
- Story by Cliff Ruby and Elana Lesser
- Performed by Steve Winwood
- Lyrics by Barry Mann
- Music by James Horner
Historical differences 
- The sled run to retrieve the medicine was actually a relay. Instead of being the leader of the first team, Balto was the leader of the last team to carry the medicine to Nome. The longest and most hazardous distance was traveled by the team led by Togo.
- The medicine was never driven by the dogs alone, and none of the mushers were incapacitated.
- Balto was never an outcast as shown by the film, but was instead born in a kennel owned by the famous musher Leonhard Seppala, where he was trained until he was deemed fit for pulling a sled as the lead dog. Seppala was also the owner of Togo, whom he personally used to lead his dog team during the relay. Balto was actually used by one of Seppala's workers, Gunnar Kaasen.
- Balto is the only animal, and possibly the only character, in the movie who is real.
The soundtrack was composed by James Horner.
Track listing 
In the original United States version, this CD had the following tracks:
- "Reach For The Light (Theme from Balto)," performed by Steve Winwood (4:24)
- "Main Title/Balto's Story Unfolds" (4:40)
- "The Dogsled Race" (1:41)
- "Rosy Goes To The Doctor" (4:05)
- "Boris & Balto" (1:29)
- "The Journey Begins" (5:06)
- "Grizzly Bear" (5:23)
- "Jenna/Telegraphing The News" (2:22)
- "Steele's Treachery" (4:38)
- "The Epidemic's Toll" (3:29)
- "Heritage Of The Wolf" (5:54)
- "Balto Brings The Medicine!" (4:53)
- "Reach For The Light (Theme from Balto) (Long Version)," performed by Steve Winwood (5:27)
Length: 49:15 minutes
Two DVD sequels were made by the Universal Cartoon Studios. The first, Balto II: Wolf Quest was released in 2002 and followed the adventures of Balto and Jenna's pups, mainly Aleu who sets off to discover her wolf heritage.
The third film, Balto III: Wings of Change was released in 2004. The storyline followed the same litter of pups from Balto 2 but with the focus on another of Balto's pups named Kodi.
Neither film took any historical references from the true story of Balto.
Balto holds a mixed rating of 50% by critics at Rotten Tomatoes , though only 12 reviews are counted. However, the users rating is at 66%. Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars. The film's release was vastly overshadowed by the performance of Disney·Pixar's Toy Story. But the film did end up recouping its small budget and did modest business at the box office. Strong video sales led to the release of two sequels: Balto II: Wolf Quest and Balto III: Wings of Change.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Balto (film)|
- Balto: Universal Studios - Restored version of the original 1995 official Balto site.
- Balto at the Internet Movie Database
- Balto at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Balto at AllRovi
- Balto – Keyframe - the Animation Resource