Andre (film)

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Andre
Andre (film).jpg
Directed by George Miller
Produced by Donald Kushner
Peter Locke
Screenplay by Dana Baratta
Based on A Seal Called Andre 
by Harry Goodridge & Lew Dietz
Starring
Narrated by Annette O'Toole
Music by Spencer Proffer
Bruce Rowland
Cinematography Thomas Burstyn
Edited by Harry Hitner
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (USA)
Turner Pictures (internationally; these rights are now owned by Warner Bros.)
Release dates
  • August 19, 1994 (1994-08-19)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $16,820,893

Andre is a 1994 family comedy-drama feature film starring Tina Majorino about a child's encounter with a seal. It is an adaptation of the book A Seal Called Andre, which in turn was based on a true story. It was shot in Boston, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Tasmania, Australia.

Plot[edit]

In 1962 a seal drowns in a fishing net cast by the film's main antagonist, the financially struggling fisherman, Billy Baker (Keith Szarabajka) - much to his fury. He and the other local fishermen discuss shooting the seals as a way to improve their flagging fishing season. Toni Whitney (Tina Majorino), a seven-year-old girl, and her Rockport, Maine family subsequently adopt the seal's orphaned newborn pup (played by a sea lion named Troy), naming it Andre. The vet doesn't hold out much hope, but Toni incites him to survive, with the promise that she will be his best friend forever, and that she will always take care of him. After several failed attempts to get him to take a bottle - with both warm and cold milk - Toni's father, Harry (Keith Carradine), the harbormaster, constructs an 'artificial mother' for Andre out of wetsuit material, a bucket, and two feeding bottles, which Andre finally accepts, ensuring his survival.

As Andre grows up, Toni forms an inseparable bond with him, even taking him to school for show and tell, with the help of her father and the permission of her school teacher, the prim and prickly Mrs McCann (Shirley Broderick). He becomes attached to the family - especially to Toni - living in the harbour, learning tricks, and attracting a huge local following of fans. The irony of Andre's success as an entertainer further angers Billy Baker, who becomes increasingly jealous of the seal's and family's success and esteem within the village. Relations between Harry Whitney and Billy Baker deteriorate rapidly. Meanwhile, Billy Baker's son, Mark (Joshua Jackson), and Harry and Thalice's daughter, Paula (Aidan Pendleton), become romantically involved, increasing tension between Paula and her father over Andre. Mark and his father have a strained relationship as it is. Under pressure from his family and the locals, Harry reluctantly makes the decision to release Andre into the wild once he is weaned, but reconsiders and does not go through with it when he encounters the body of a seal covered in bullet holes at the point where he had planned to release him.

In his first winter, Andre escapes the confines of the barn, and the water home that Harry built him there when the harbour froze over. He cuts himself badly - leaving a trail of blood which the family discover upon realising that he is missing - and remains gone for the winter. However he returns to the house in spring, physically weak but unchanged in character, and recovers quickly from his ordeal.

As Andre gets older he continues to be scapegoat for the local fishermen - and for Paula - as he takes up more and more of her father's time and affections. Harry misses Paula's performance (which he told her he would not miss for the world) in the local Miss Liberty beauty pageant, because he has to protect Andre from a drunken Billy Baker, who is trying to kill him with a pitchfork. Harry's relations with his son, Steve (Shane Meier), fade into the background as he comes down harshly on him for minor transgressions, and fails to keep up with what is going on in his life. When Paula and Mark are discovered smoking in the shed when Andre exits it in a fit of coughing, Harry permanently bans Mark's presence on the family's grounds, and Mark and Paula's relationship - in part a displacement of the tension between Harry and Billy. Paula decides she is leaving home, raging that her father doesn't care about her, and that she hates him - to the anger and deep concern of her mother, Thalice (Chelsea Field). Mark tells her he knows a way to make Andre go away so that he'll never come back.

Harry's job also suffers. He fails to call meetings, never checks moorings, and his relations with the fishermen become ever more strained. Harry also attracts the ongoing attention of the federal government, who send their inspector, Jack Adams, to inform him that he is flouting the law by keeping a wild animal in captivity, as a pet. Harry insists that Andre is there by his own choice, but that it's too dangerous in the wild during winter. Jack Adams pays two visits to the family home, increasingly emphatic that Harry faces court and even jail if he does not give Andre up. However, Andre is teaching Harry about the intelligence and abilities of seals, and despite the risks, he is determined that nothing will put an end to this learning curve. At one point Andre saves his life when he is underwater checking a mooring - which turns out to be entangled in an active explosive.

Eventually, Thalice manages to impress upon Harry the high cost of continuing his relations with Andre in the setup that they have, and Harry agrees to call Jack Adams, so that he can relocate Andre to the aquarium in Boston, where he will be safe, cared for, and have plenty of people for company. However, before he can tell Toni, the telephone rings, and Toni goes down to the harbour. There she discovers that Paula and Mark have taken Andre, comandeered a boat, and are heading out to sea as dark clouds gather. Steve is charged with keepig an eye on Toni while their parents investigate, but Steve is engrossed in a TV programme, and does not notice Toni slip out and launch the dinghy onto an increasingly choppy sea.

In Mark and Paula's boat, Mark attempts to shoot Andre, reasoning that he is a problem for the fishermen, but Paula finally realises that she does care about Andre and doesn't want him to be hurt or killed. She tries to stop Mark from shooting, but the gun goes off. Andre jumps overboard, but Paula - not seeing this - assumes his body has fallen into the water. Very upset, and very angry at Mark, she demands to be taken home. Harry and Thalice - having been informed by Toni that Paula and Mark had taken Andre, meet them on the shore, whereupon Steve, in a panic, arrives and tells Thalice that Toni has disappeared, as has the dinghy. Thalice calls the coastguard, as the rain starts to fall, and visibility begins to deteriorate.

Out at sea, Toni is struggling to maintain control of the dinghy in the face of the storm and a strong outward tide-rush. It's being tossed on huge waves, in opaque rain, and is heading towards some jagged rocks. She loses both oars, and, panicking, begins to call for help. Andre - who turns out to be unharmed - swims to her rescue, pulling her away from the rocks by the dinghy's mooring rope. He then alerts Billy and Harry, in their boat, leading them to Toni's location. Before she can be rescued, a large wave capsises the dinghy. Mark - who came with Billy and Harry - jumps overboard, swimming out to her, and Billy throws them both a lifebelt, pulling them to safety. Billy tells Mark that he is proud of him, while Harry comforts Toni in the back of the boat, and Andre swims away, exultant at her safety.

Once back on shore, Toni is distraught to find Jack Adams levering a caged Andre onto a transport vehicle. Harry explains to her that Andre is going to live in Boston aquarium, where he will be safe and cared for in ways they cannot. Annie Potts - an aquarium worker, tells Toni they will take good care of him, that they will love having him there, and that Toni will get to visit whenever she wants. Toni reluctantly accepts the notion, and tells Andre that she loves him and will visit him all the time.

As summer comes round, Billy and Mark Baker's relationship improves, Harry repairs relations with his family, and having been offered a research job in marine mammal protection, steps down as harbourmaster, nominating Billy Baker to take his place. Toni comes to the realisation that Andre would be happier in the wild, being a wild animal, and Andre is subsequently released. The family do not expect to see him again - Toni wonders if he is making new friends with the wild seals, and Paula professes to miss him. Multiple alleged sightings of Andre are reported, until a friend of the Whitneys spots him nearby, and informs him that Andre is on his way. The entire town of Rockport flocks to the harbour to watch Andre returning home to his family. The film ends with an adult Toni narrating that Andre's life became legend after he made his first trip home - that he spent every winter at the aquarium, and every spring he was released to swim home to rockport, where he spent his summers. She narrates that by the time he was twenty four years old he could hardly see, but still made his final trip home, and that in all her past, and in all her future, she'll never have a better friend than Andre.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film is based on the book A Seal Called Andre, co-written by the seal's owner, Harry Goodridge, and Lew Dietz, which describes the true story of Andre.[1]

The location, approximate dates, first names, ages and occupations of the real family members are all preserved, although two of the Goodridge children - Carol and Susan - are not depicted in the film. Andre really did perform tricks for people down at the harbour, becoming a celebrity. He was free to come and go from the home to the sea as he pleased, though he had a floating pound and an old bathtub in the family's barn. Billy Baker is a composite character, drawing together a minority of fishermen who used seals as scapegoats for poor catches. The book tells of one such fisherman, named only as Billy within the text, who became angry with Andre, and who wanted to shoot him, but was quickly talked out of it. Andre really was nursed with an 'artificial mother', of the kind depicted in the film, and he did go missing in his first winter, returning in the spring. The storm scene appears to have been added for cinematic and plot reasons, as do many of the subplots and supporting characters. The case really was investigated by the federals in conjunction with a law which prohibited the keeping of wild animals - but this happened later in Andre's life than the film depicts, and the case was quickly dropped on the grounds that Andre had been kept before the law came into play; that is, it was demonstrably his own intention to come home and to remain with the family.

During the closing credits, shots from original 16mm films of the real Andre are shown. He, who spent every winter in the New England Aquarium in Boston, entertained tourists at Rockport, Maine every summer, having swum up there upon his release each spring, until his death in the spring of 1986.[2][3]

In the film, Andre is not played by an actual seal, but rather by a sea lion named Tory. Two others named Kalika and PJ were also featured in it.

It features the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park.

The theme song from the film "Thanks to You", sung by Tyler Collins, was a top 20 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts upon its release.

Box office[edit]

The film debuted at No. 10.[4]

Score[edit]

Original Motion Picture Score. All tracks composed by Bruce Rowland

Original tracklist
No. Title Length
1. "Seal Ballet"   2:48
2. "An Orphan Pup"   2:02
3. "Toni Meets Andre"   2:43
4. "Let's Call Him Andre"   2:19
5. "Andre's First Swim"   1:13
6. "The Coat Button"   2:36
7. "Winter in the Barn"   2:13
8. "The Storm"   6:23
9. "Off to the Aquarium"   1:40
10. "T. N. T."   1:20
11. "Halloween"   1:18
12. "Let Nature Take Its Course"   1:40
13. "Robinson's Rock"   2:20
14. "Butterflies Are Free"   0:57
15. "Back to the Wild"   1:11
16. "Dad"   1:28
17. "Frogman Dad"   0:25
18. "How Can I Make It Up To You"   1:25
19. "An Attempt On Andre's Life"   1:27
20. "He's On His Way"   2:41
21. "Welcome Home"   0:53
22. "Thanks to You"   3:22
Total length:
52:34

References[edit]

  1. ^ Goodridge, Harry; Dietz, Lew (1975). A seal called Andre. Praeger. ISBN 9-78027-522-000-6. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "Andre the celebrity seal dies", The New Mexican (Santa Fe). July 21, 1986. pA-3
  3. ^ Curtis, Abigail. "PBS documentary on Andre the Seal has host family reminiscing about special bond". Bangor Daily News (August 5, 2014). Retrieved September 14, 2014. 
  4. ^ Fox, David J. (August 23, 1994). "Weekend Box Office : 'Forrest Gump' in Top Spot--Again". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 11, 2011. 

External links[edit]