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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

301. My Dog Tulip

    I remember the days when dogs weren't on leads.
    In fact, when I was a kid, the black labrador, owned by the family across the road, used to be well known for roaming around the neighbourhood.
    The hazards of a world when dogs were free and just came back for their dinner and a pat on the head was obvious. We scraped our shoes a lot in those days.
    My Dog Tulip goes back to the days of dog freedom. It is a story of man and dog which was written by JR Ackerley in 1956. It is a charming homage to how an alsatian changed the life of Ackerley, who had drifted into loneliness in middle age.
    Ackerley wrote: "Unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to dogs.'' It was clearly aimed at himself as much as anyone else.
    Although its animators, Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, are Americans, they preserve the quintessentially English tone of  My Dog Tulip. I could imagine that Ackerley, who died in 1967, would have been delighted with Christopher Plummer's sublime narration.
    He tells the story of Tulip, from the moment she was bought to her final days.
    It is basically a love story. She offers him total devotion and he moulds his life around her needs.
    At first, we are told about he boisterous days as a young dog and it all seems quite quaint but then sex surprisingly rears its head and quite a comedy develops.
    And her owner's attempt to find Tulip a mate are genuinely funny and the level of detail of the quest, and particularly the failures to find a "partner'' made me giggle a fair few times.
    The movie is unique in many ways and it also stands out as the last feature film of Lynn Redgrave who died last year.
    She plays the owner's sister who comes to stay and vies with Tulip for his affections. Of course, there is only ever going to be one winner.
    My Dog Tulip is beguiling. It is a quiet but wonderfully worded comedy.
    It animation belongs in a different decade - reminding me of children's TV programmes of the 1970s rather than the computer-generated stuff nowadays but, after a while, its quirkiness grows.
    Its rating? I'm saying 7.5/10

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301. My Dog Tulip

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