The 2019 Disney film Togo captures the subtle power of self-belief in a musher and his huskies. The movie takes its inspiration from The 1925 Serum Run to procure antitoxins for a diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska. The severe weather conditions had ruled out the option of aerial transport. Therefore, 48-year-old Leonhard Seppala (William Dafoe) was convinced to collect the serum and race back with Togo and his other dogs.
I won’t spoil the movie for you by revealing whether they’re able to accomplish this feat or not. As for why you should watch this movie is because it’s one of the finest dog movies ever! Regardless of being a dog-lover or not, you would have to have a heart of stone to not be touched by Ericson Core’s Togo. Watching ageing, hard-working Norwegian bonding with his blue-eyed husky, who obeys his master not out of command, but out of love, is sure to make you teary-eyed.
After watching the first part of the movie, you would’ve questioned my usage of the word ‘obey,’ had it not been portrayed in a dual-timeline. After all, by escaping his kennel everyday and disturbing his master at work, Togo proves to be a nuisance. Seppala considers him a hyperactive, good-for-nothing brat and even tries to give him away twice. “Your dog, who disrupts my team, your dog, who jumps on me no matter how many knees I put to his chest, your dog, who violates the rules of the pack and upsets the hierarchy I’ve worked years to establish, your cur who rewards your kind nature with anarchy!” exclaims Seppala to his wife Constance in a scene, disproving her indifference towards Togo’s indiscipline.
Akin to Seppala, we often question the unconventional, even though we might not want to. Togo differs from the other sled dogs. His master sees that but is unable to perceive it as a positive trait. This is because Togo disrupts him at work and Seppala is unable to handle him anymore. Despite Constance’s urge to believe in Togo, Seppala can’t see him as anything but trouble. Until one day, he finally gives him a chance at pulling the sled and realises the potential his hyperactivity proposes. Seppala thus uncovers Togo’s incredible stamina and sense of smell and navigation. And in the blink of an eye, he makes him the lead dog of the pack.
Later in the movie, Seppala and his dogs attempt to cross the dangerous path of Norton Sound over thin ice. Seppala motivates his sled dogs by quoting a modified speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. To some, it may feel unnecessarily dramatic. But I think this scene redefined the benchmark at which we hold the human-dog relationship to be. Taming them is one thing, but building such a bond with them is something larger-than-life.
We all have a little bit of Seppala and Togo in ourselves. Like Seppala, we may have problems accommodating people or things which deviate from the common norms. Like Togo, we may be the deviant, persevering and trying to prove ourselves; constantly, trying to fit in. But I think there are lessons we can learn from both of them. We should learn to respect diversity and be unafraid of change. Even if we have to take our time, like Seppala. As for Togo, we should never, ever try to change ourselves to be accepted among the masses. Togo never gave up on his hyperactivity which made him a deviant in the pack. This is probably too much to be said about a dog. But Togo’s team ran 264 miles while the other teams covered just 31 miles. You’ve gotta give him some credit!
READ THE FULL STORY OF THE 1925 SERUM RUN: https://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20161014-in-1925-a-remote-town-was-saved-from-lethal-disease-by-dogs
William Dafoe’s stellar performance and Disney’s knack of creating movies for people of all ages have yet produced another movie which may not have won an Oscar but continues to win hearts. Of course, not to mention huskies that are as adorable as they are fierce. I recommend Togo one-hundred per cent as a foolproof movie which will make your jaws go immensely wide!
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