After "Watership Down", writer-director Martin Rosen and Nepenthe Productions turned their attention to Richard Adams's "The Plague Dogs".
The film has many strengths: wonderful voice-over work, beautiful animation of wild and wintry moorlands, and a compelling story of two tragic dogs who escape from an animal laboratory to find themselves hunted down by an embarassed government. John Hurt gives a wonderful performance as Snitter - the unwilling victim of a brain operation who constantly searches for the "masters", or good humans, who are so different from the "white-coats" who torment them.
Is it as good as "Watership Down"? Well, no. The film suffers from bad editing - scenes are too short and appear disjointed. The print itself is not as good as it could be, and the picture quality is poor in places. The film also lacks the wonderful musical score of "Watership Down" and in some places it really is begging for it. Alan Price does a haunting theme song, but this is underused throughout. I would also have liked to see more of the humans, rather than just hear them talking, as they are so integral to the plot.
So in all, this is a commendable effort to film a controversial and serious story. The characters are wonderful and the ending is quite moving. But it could have been (and still could be with a few remixes) much better.
Oh, and is it for children? Well, "Watership Down" wasn't exactly a typical children's story, with its fascist rabbits and genocidal humans. I recommend you see it for yourselves and then decide.
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