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|Directed by||Simon Wells|
|Produced by||Steve Hickner
Steven Spielberg (executive producer)
Bonne Radford (executive producer)
|Screenplay by||Cliff Ruby & Elana Lesser
David Steven Cohen
Roger S.H. Schulman
|Story by||Cliff Ruby & Elana Lesser|
|Narrated by||Miriam Margoyles|
Miriam Margoyles (live-action sequences)
Lola Bates-Campbell (live-action sequences)
|Music by||James Horner|
|Editing by||Renee Edwards
Nick Fletcher (supervising editor)
Sim Evan-Jones (supervising editor)
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||78 minutes|
Balto is a 1995 American live-action/animated historical adventure drama film directed by Simon Wells, produced by Amblin Entertainment and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is loosely 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, in New York City.
Balto was the final animated feature produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio. Although the film's theatrical run was overshadowed by the success of the competing Pixar film Toy Story, its subsequent strong sales on home video led to two direct-to-video sequels: Balto II: Wolf Quest (2002), and Balto III: Wings of Change (2004).
In present day New York City, an elderly woman 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 1925, which shifts the film from live-action to animation.
Balto, a wolfdog hybrid, lives on the outskirts of Nome with his best friend, a Russian snow goose named Boris and two polar bears, Muk and Luk. Being half-breed, Balto is ridiculed by both dogs and humans alike; his only friend in town there is a red husky named Jenna, for whose attention Balto is challenged by the town's favorite sled dog, Steele, a fierce, overly competitive, selfish purebred Alaskan Malamute.
One night, the children of Nome – including Jenna's owner, Rosy – 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-fit dogs for a sled dog 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 and 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, with the musher knocked unconscious. When word reaches Nome, Balto sets out in search of them with Boris, Muk, and Luk. On the way, they encounter a huge grizzly bear, which attacks them. Jenna arrives to save them, but is injured in the process, prompting Balto to have Boris take her, Muk, and Luk back to Nome while he continues on alone. Balto eventually finds the stricken team, but Steele refuses his help (having lost his mind) 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 sled 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 earns respect from both the dog packs and the humans and visits Rosy, who thanks him for saving her life.
Back in New York City, the elderly woman and her granddaughter find the memorial commemorating Balto, and she explains that the Iditarod trail covers the same path that Balto and his team took from Nenana to Nome. The woman, who is actually Rosy, looks up at the statue and says, "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 and his mother, Aniu was a wild, white wolf.
- Bob Hoskins as Boris, a Russian snow goose and Balto's caretaker.
- Bridget Fonda as Jenna, a young, beautiful female Husky and Balto's love interest.
- Juliette Brewer as young Rosy, Jenna's owner and a kind, excitable girl and possibly the only one in Nome who is kind to Balto. She falls ill before Balto does everything he can to save her and the other children.
- Miriam Margolyes as old Rosy in the live-action sequences who tells her story to her granddaughter.
- Jim Cummings as Steele, a Alaskan Malamute and Balto's rival who has a crush on Jenna.
- Phil Collins as Muk and Luk, a pair of Polar bear cubs, Muk talks but not Luk.
- 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 appears in the live-action sequences and is accompanied by her dog Blaze, purebred Siberian Husky.
- William Roberts as Rosy's father.
- Donald Sinden as a doctor.
- Bill Bailey as a butcher.
- Garrick Hagon as a telegraph operator.
- The biggest inaccuracy in the film portrays Balto as grey wolfdog. In the real life Balto was a pure breed Siberian Husky and was reddish-brown in color.
- The sled run to retrieve the medicine was 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 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 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.
- In the sequel, Balto was shown to have offspring, but in real life he was neutered at a young age.
The soundtrack was composed by James Horner.
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: 54:30 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% and has garnered a vast cult following. 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 allmovie
- Balto – Keyframe – the Animation Resource