Humans and animals have been closely associated with the very beginning. Since olden times, pets and animals have also been seen in fiction. They have been cast in movies too and some of them have gained stardom.
Dogs are perhaps the most famous of movie-star animals. Rover the collie dog, in the 1905 movie ‘Rescued by Rover’ is the first real animal to be featured in the film. Lassie, a female Rough Collie, another such famous pet dog, featured in an American TV series for nineteen years! Since then, with the development and advancement of movies and the creation of cartoon films, a great number of pet animals and animal characters have evolved. Many of them have captured the imagination of children and won the hearts of grown-ups too.
Films featuring pets have always been a favorite of children. ‘Dumbo’, ‘101 Dalmatians’, ‘Happy Feet’, ‘Finding Nemo’, ‘Bambi’, ‘Lady and the Tramp’, ‘The Lion King’, ‘Jungle Book’, and, of course, more recently Walt Disney’s ‘Zootopia’, are some of the films that are loved most. Besides the animated classics, the National Geographic documentaries on animals are also highly informative and educational.
In feature films with animal characters, the animals are generally portrayed as sentient beings, i.e., having feelings and understanding, making them more adorable. These characters act and react, think, and feel, just like us. They reflect human life situations rather than realistic animal life, often dressing and behaving like human beings.
Coming to animal-friendly children’s books ‘Charlotte’s Web’ is perhaps the most famous one of all the time. In this book, Wilbur the pig knows that his life on the farm is in a problematic situation when he found that he is meant to be the farmer’s Christmas dinner. That is, until his friends Fern the girl, Temptation the rat, and Charlotte the spider decide to help him.
Most Harry Potter films, based on J.K. Rowling’s novels, also highlight compassion towards animals. Hermione Granger, who also happens to be one of my favorite characters, is very kind towards animals. She strongly believes that it is not right to harm, oppress, or bully someone who is infirm. Hermione is a powerful voice for the magical creatures that need help and says, “Everyone hates chains!”. Also, another remarkable character is Potter’s pet owl, Hedwig.
There have been loads of animal characters in films and fiction and, most probably, there will be many more to come. Their appearance in movies, books, and comics has increased our appreciation of animals and our understanding of what animals should be for us. So let us wait for some more interesting characters to come up soon.