If you’re one of the many people very reasonably wondering why dear god why the world needed a photorealistic version of The Lion King, then there’s a family favourite film which makes a strong case for enthusiastically embracing the march of technology.
That film is The Adventures of Milo and Otis, which is celebrating its thirtieth birthday! Sort of!
That qualification is because the film was released in Japan in 1986 as Koneko Monogatari (“A Kitten’s Story”) and also had limited release under the English title The Adventures of Chatran.
Three years, an edit and a Dudley Moore narration later, The Adventures of Milo and Otis appeared and charmed audiences worldwide with the heartwarming tale of a mischievous kitten and his best pug pal making their way back home after a series of misadventures.
Heartwarming, that is, until the stories started to come out of how many kittens and pugs supposedly died during filming.
Now, it’s worth making clear that the producers of the film have always insisted that no animals were harmed during the making of the movie, and that the initial allegations against it were made by Australian animal cruelty activists based on reports they’d received from Europe – so not exactly ground zero during production or anything.
That being said, one thing which people familiar with kittens and puppies is that they grow up amazingly quickly, while filmmaking is rarely a swift business – especially when working with animals that are too young to easily train. Again, an advantage of CG when considering live action Lion King remakes.
More specifically, the footage had been compiled from four years of shooting so the rumours that 20-odd cats were “retired” during filming do seem at least plausible.
Also, when you’re shooting a scene of a kitten falling 100 feet into the water… look, you hope they got it in one take and that the stunt cat was fine. And same for the scene where Otis the pug fights a real bear. If there are outtakes, I’m fine with never seeing them thanks.
The other unsubstantiated rumours included mutilating live animals to create the characters of One Eye the pig, One Horn the bull and Three Hoof the deer. And sure, we hope they were just giving well-deserved work to disabled animal actors, but then again…
We’re just saying we’re glad there’s CG for our live action Lion King now. It certainly feels less… you know, horrific.