Valentine’s Day may traditionally be a time for the celebration of love between lovers, but that would be an inappropriate list for a family website. Fortunately the Valentine’s Day remit is so loose that it allows for friendship and familial love to be included under it’s warm, gooey umbrella, and it is with this in mind that this list – the Top Ten Most Touching Human/Animal Relationships – is presented to you, for your enjoyment (best served with a box of chocolates, shaped as the animal of your choice).
Also, SPOILER ALERT.
10. My Girl – Bees
Every relationship has its peaks and its troughs, and the death of one member as a result of haemorrhaging from the stings of the other is definitely a trough. In another time, on a different day, this may have become a beautiful friendship; however, fate had other plans.
9. Jaws – Shark
The deleted scenes of Jaws clearly show that the whole film is intended to show a courtship sequence, conducted between Quidd and the shark, that got out of hand. This subtext was edited out of the film, to its detriment.
8. Grizzly Man – Bears
Before being eaten by them, Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard were locked in a beautifully familial relationship with the pack of bears that they had reared and lived with over many years. Touching scenes between them belie a raw, feral subtext and an edge that while what appears superficially to be love is exhibited, ultimately love is not a feeling that bears are recognisably familiar with.
7. King Kong – Gorilla
Ostensibly nothing more than an updated Beauty and the Beast-tale, King Kong grew to become the most iconic giant gorilla movie of all time, and a beautiful relationship is formed between Kong and Ann Darrow towards the final scenes of the film. She sees him not just as a lumbering hairy monster, but a poet trapped in the shell of a lumbering hairy monster, and it is this poetic soul that eventually leads to Kong’s death.
6. I Am Legend – Dog
It’s a common trope of the human/animal film relationship that the Animal Must Die, and I Am Legend is no exception. When Will Smith is forced to kill Sam, his loyal dog, the collective heart of the audience was rendered in twain at the sound of that plaintive gunshot, a gunshot that still echoes today.
5. Free Willy – Whale
While infeasible, due to the vast difference in their respective sizes, Free Willy showed that it is possible for a human to be friends with a killer whale. And boy, was this whale killer (to use nineties phraseolgy, meaning ‘hip’)!
4. War Horse – Horse
If ever two beings – a horse and human – were meant to be together, it’s these two. Ted Narracot and Joey, his horse, get separated in the bloody haze of WWI and find themselves saddled (guffaw) with others until eventually they meet again and everyone is happy.
3. Every Which Way But Loose – Orangutan
James Fargo, director – ‘OK, so, the idea is this – Clint Eastwood is a wise-cracking trucker who chases the motorcycle gang that kidnapped his girlfriend, with a wise-cracking orangutan who can’t speak but can make vaguely human gestures’.
Every sane financier/producer/film critic/audience member – ‘I love it!’
2. The Simpsons Movie – Pig
Ask anyone to name their favourite/the only funny bit in The Simpsons Movie and they will sing to you the theme from Spiderman, with Spiderpig replacing the name of the eponymous hero. It’s a great song, he is a great character, and the scene in which the song appears is a great one. The second greatest example of human/animal interspecies romance, you could say.
1. My Neighbour Totoro – Totoro
While they don’t exist in the UK, or the USA, Totoros are common in Japan. They are like a giant caring love rabbit, standing well over two metres in height and mainly live in the woodland surrounding Japanese villages. The famed animated documentary My Neighbour Totoro was an attempt by Hayao Miyazaki to profile just one relationship, between the sisters Mei and Satsuki Kusakabe and one such Totoro. What results is one of the most beautiful animations that has ever been committed to film, and the greatest example of human/animal friendship – between that of a giant love rabbit and two small girls.
It’s also a lot less illegal than it sounds.