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Dogs and Spirituality in the Movies


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*Tortilla Flat* is on TCM at 7:30am tomorrow morning (Friday). It contains one of the great depictions of religious experience on film that I've ever witnessed. Near the end of the movie, Frank Morgan, a sort of hobo who walks around the Redwood Forest with his dogs, sits the dogs down and tells them the story of St. Francis. Suddenly, the dogs have a vision. Frank averts his eyes as the dogs express the awe that accompanies the vision. It is amazing, one of the most beautiful and moving expressions of spirituality depicted in any movie. (Btw, I think one of the dogs played Toto a year or so earlier in another Victor Fleming film).

 

Another example, which I've seen again recently, is in one of my favorite films -- *Slaughterhouse Five*. Billy Pilgrim and his dog Spot are looking at the stars (as Bach's music is heard). A falling star approaches them and hovers for a while. Billy and Spot observe in awe.

 

Are there any other examples of animals actually experiencing spiritual feelings (I use that term loosely) in the movies, that you can think of? I'm not referring to movies about religious subjects that might contain animals in scenes related to religion; I'm interested in the animal actually being seen to react to the experience.

 

Perhaps Balthazar the Donkey in *Au Hasard Balthazar*. But he may be more of a religious figure/symbol.

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I have never seen Slaughter House. Can anyone tell me if it is available anywhere to view, or do I need to purchase it? I'd prefer to view it before paying for it. I've heard reference to it many times. Thank you.

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This is only tangentially related to what you're asking, but there's a book by J. Allen Boone called "Kinship With All Life" which tells of the time he had charge of the early movie dog, Strongheart. He mentions walking in the hills when they stopped to rest and Strongheart appeared to be concentrating intently on something below. When he moved around to see what Strongheart was looking at, he saw the dog was simply staring into space in a kind of relaxed meditation. The book as a whole is about how animals communicate with each other and with the humans who make the effort to understand them. No examples of dogs in movies are coming to mind right now, but I'll keep thinking. Interesting subject.

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Isn't there some animated film from the '80s called *All Dogs Go to Heaven* ? Haven't seen it though.

Perhaps it's a howler.

 

Lassie seemed to be in touch with her (actually his) inner self on that long journey she took.

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Thanks, DougieB, the book sounds fascinating, I will look for it.

 

Regarding heaven, Miss Wonderley, there has been theological debate about the nature of animals. Roughly speaking, I think St. Bonaventure believed that animals could go to heaven; St. Thomas Aquinas had the opposite view. I guess that's not surprising, since St. Bonaventure was a Franciscan, i.e. a member of the order founded by St. Francis of Assisi.

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I passionately hope that animals go to heaven. Especially dogs and horses, as I know these animals think, feel, and can intuite the humans they love. I'm hoping to see a few I have known and loved in my life. And the one asleep on our sofa now is an angel with fur, so we know where he will be but hopefully not anytime soon (the canine variety, not the equine, our sofa isn't large enough).

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Actually, that is what I meant to say. I am perhaps, the pseudo-amnesiac, since I keep metaphorically putting my cloven hoof in my mouth today. This ought to teach me....

 

I am actually an insomniac myself, but I lie awake wondering how I can make a further **** of myself on this website.

 

Edited by: jbh on Mar 4, 2011 7:21 PM

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> {quote:title=jbh wrote:}{quote}

> Actually, that is what I meant to say. I am perhaps, the pseudo-amnesiac, since I keep metaphorically putting my cloven hoof in my mouth today. This ought to teach me....

>

> I am actually an insomniac myself, but I lie awake wondering how I can make a further **** of myself on this website.

>

> Edited by: jbh on Mar 4, 2011 7:21 PM

 

Have you ever read Mark Twain?s ?Innocents Abroad?? I think you might like that book. He inserts some really good and clever humor into it, it?s mostly about a long travel trip to the Holy Land in the late 1860s.

 

http://www.online-literature.com/twain/innocents-abroad/

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I am not familiar with this tome, but it sounds like something I need to read. I'm getting really paranoid now. Is the reference to the Holy Land pertinent to the statement that I'm looking forward to seeing my pets there? Or am I just getting really paranoid? I am truly in awe of the number of your postings, Fred. Thanks for the link. (There meaning Heaven, not the Holy Land)

 

Edited by: jbh on Mar 4, 2011 8:55 PM

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*I have only one thing to say about all this, as a grammarian: No one "lays" awake, he lies awake. Only hens lay.*

 

Colloquially, men and women refer to laying, but usually in the passive situation, in the past tense (even if it's a present or future action), and with an auxiliary verb.

 

Edited by: Arturo on Mar 4, 2011 8:57 PM

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> {quote:title=jbh wrote:}{quote}

> I am not familiar with this tome, but it sounds like something I need to read.

 

No need to be paranoid. I mentioned the book because you seem to have a sense of humor. You used the word ***, in reference to yourself, which was something Mark Twain did occasionally. Not many writers are that honest, but he was. His book is a little unusual in that it sounds like the narration of a code movie made in the late ?30s or the 1940s, in other words, more modern than the 1860s, highly literate, but not as modern as the ?00s. He uses only a few old obsolete words, but most everything he says is as if someone were talking to us today, telling us about a vacation trip, but he was speaking as a very intelligent and clever person, while trying to seem just like an average guy, which is what a lot of us would like to do, but we can?t because we aren?t as smart as he was.

 

And also, I?ve been watching a lot of Middle-Eastern reports on the news lately, and he visits several important places in the Middle-East in his book. My overall point of view about the whole region has become very much like his in 1868-?69, since the place doesn't seem to have changed very much since he was there.

 

Edited by: FredCDobbs on Mar 4, 2011 7:29 PM

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jbh wrote:

<< What about the dog in the insurance commercial who is worried to distraction about his bone? LOL >>

 

I like that dog in the Beggin Strips commercial, give him a box of it and he will think he is in dog heaven.

 

*IT's BACON!*

beggin-strips.jpg

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