Animals As Leaders In Movies

Tuesday, August 9 by Brenna Coleman

What are the best and most moving animals as leaders in movies? Animals have a special place in our hearts, especially when on the silverscreen. In many ways, we see some of our greatest qualities in them as they are projected before us; compassion, courage, self sacrifice or love, all qualities in great abundance when we see animals as leaders in movies.

  1. “Willard” The connection between person and pet is one of the strongest bonds many of us have experienced. They comfort us in our time of need without ever needing to say a word. "Willard" delves into that relationship in this movie about animals as leaders and protectors, with a very unlikely pet, a rat. Universally seen as some of the most vile vermin, rats are a hard sell to animal lovers but quite appropriate for the likes of horror. After building a relationship with a rat he names Socrates, Willard is constantly challenged by Socrates’ companion Ben which builds to an all out conflict as Ben leads a rat colony against Willard.
  2. “Ben” "Ben" is the sequel to the film "Willard." Following the same theme, Ben builds a relationship with a social outcast, a child by the name of Danny. Ben takes a liking to Danny and protects him with his colony of rats, acting as an ironic animal leader in this movie. As the story goes on, Danny is faced with the same issues of control as his predecessor Willard. With a most appropriate theme song sung by Michael Jackson, "Ben" horrifies but also evokes sympathy and humanizes one of the most unsanitary creatures and unlikely pets.
  3. “Lion King” Leave it to Disney to to provide us with a heartwarming tale about a prince, and one of the most well-known animals as leaders in movies. This time around though, the prince in question is a lion cub who must find a way to accept his responsibility and take his rightful place on the throne as the king of the jungle. Starring the voices of Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, Cheech Marin, Whoopi Goldberg and James Earl Jones, the "Lion King" illustrates the right of passage of a young prince to become the leader of his jungle kingdom.
  4. “Benji” Dogs may be considered man’s best friend but Benji goes far above and beyond. Reminiscent of "Lassie" and just as family friendly, Benji is a stray terrier mix who is loved by many in the town where he lives. Goodwill, ingenuity, and a budding relationship with another stray occupies his time until suddenly, two children are kidnapped for ransom and brought to the very house Benji sleeps in. Benji frantically searches for help so he can lead them to the location of the kidnapped children. This is a film about animals as leaders that will entertain the whole family and may even provoke a few tears.
  5. "Homeward Bound" Loyalty in pets, especially dogs, is second nature, but the pets in the film "Homeward Bound" by far exceed any typical expectations we may have. This motley crew of pets, a bulldog, Himalayan cat and golden retriever, believe they have been abandoned when their owners go on a family trip. They begin their quest to find them, led by the golden retriever, Shadow, the animal leader in this movie. Traversing the wilderness in search of their masters, the trio faces many adversities showing just how determined, courageous and strong willed they actually are. "Homeward Bound" is a remake of an earlier Disney classic, "The Great Adventure," and is a great family film.  

- Brenna Coleman

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