Balto: when Spielberg wanted to puff up the snow at Disney

There is not only disney in life. At least that’s what must have been said Steven Spielberg by positioning itself on the niche of animated films, wearing its producer cap. If he managed to sustainably compete with the master with Dreamworks, he had already tried his luck with Amblimation. You forgot it? It’s normal: the studio’s third feature film, Balto wolfhound, snow herois also his last and perfectly represents his promises and his limits.

Hard to find a place in the field of animation in the middle of the 90s: Disney is surfing on its second golden age and devouring everything with it The Lion King. Ghibli chains the nuggets (Porco Rosso, pompoko) without being able to claim the same global strike force, and it is not the Franco-German co-production Asterix and the Indians who can compete. While the excellent Ghost in the Shell is intended for adults and that the hybrid space jam of Warner Bros is still in the kitchen, Steven Spielberg is looking for the winning formula.

It’s not the first time that the father ofAND and Jurassic Park tries to trim mouse ears to a point. What could be more logical for the master of enchantment than to take an interest in animation, so conducive to reaching the youngest? From 1986, he co-produced Fievel and the New World, Don Bluth’s masterpiece. He also supports his Little Dinosaur and the Valley of Wonders alongside George Lucas, then decided in 1989 to assign a subsidiary of his production company Amblin to this promising segment: Amblimation was (still)born.

This is the story of Amblimation

Alaska’s icy windy air

After a few years of existence, Amblimation is far from orbit. His television series (including an extension of Back to the future) are not enough to impose it, and his second feature film The Four Dinosaurs and the Magic Circus met with public and critical failure. You have to hit harder to anchor the studio in the collective imagination. The screenwriters take on the story of a dog who helped bring diphtheria medicine to Alaska in the winter of 1925.

Balto unfolds a rather classic underdog tale who will have to surpass himself to overcome the distrust of his peers and the slander aimed at discrediting him, in order to prove his worth through empathy and courage. His journey to bring back the serum constitutes the obvious high point of the film, whose essential moment “sorrow and despair” is perfectly articulated. From the particularly terrifying grizzly bear to the bombardment of stalactites via the avalanche, the precipice or the inevitable scene on the ice, no obstacle is spared.

Balto dog-wolf, snow hero: photoWhen your Balto is going to take on water

The characterization of the characters is revealed as brief as it is effective : the allies are loyal and resilient and the antagonist truly mean. The proof, he wears a black coat. The side kicks comedians are so numerous to introduce that the adventure is a bit slow to declare its stakes: each major protagonist has his own, whether they are moderately smart henchmen or a canine friend azimuthed. The goose Boris, endowed in the French version with a delicious Russian accent, stands out with his humor and his chemistry with the wolf-dog.

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Balto: when Spielberg wanted to puff up the snow at Disney

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