Disney’s 24th animated feature, “The Fox and the Hound”, is an important one from a historical perspective. It’s the film that had the baton figuratively passed down from the old animators to the hands of the new generation of animators and colleagues including future famous names such as Glen Keane, Ron Clements, Richard Rich, Don Bluth, Henry Selick, John Lasseter, and Brad Bird.
It’s also the film during which Don Bluth left the Disney studios with a handful of other animators and went to form his own animation studios which would become Disney’s biggest competitor for a while.
But anyway, this post isn’t meant to be so much about the historical significance of the film as it about the film and its characters themselves. So let’s take a closer look.Released in 1981, the film is about a young fox named Tod who’s adopted by a middle-aged/elderly widow,
and his friendship with a young hound dog named Copper owned by the neighbor hunter, Amos Slade.
They don’t realize that they’re meant to be enemies, and instead become the best of friends! That is, until Copper goes away for a while to train to become a good hunting dog. When he returns and both Tod and Copper have grown, they realize that they can’t be friends anymore.
The film just takes one sad, dramatic turn after another:
Tod is chased by the hunter and his elder hunting dog, Chief. Chief gets hit by a train, causing him almost to die,
Copper seeks revenge for Chief because he thinks that Tod is responsible,
the widow ends up taking Tod to the game preserve and leaves him there for his own good,
Tod spends a miserable night alone in the forest,
and Amos Slade and Copper break into the game preserve to hunt down Tod!
Oh, and there’s also a huge, frightening bear at the end!
As you can see, this movie isn’t exactly the happiest Disney movie out there! Then again, the original book that the film is based on is much darker!
But, we must look for light in this rather dark tale, and we find this light amongst the characters of the film whom we love warmly. But, one character gets overlooked, and yet is quite important: Tod’s mother.
You see, I didn’t tell you the whole truth about how Tod ended up being adopted by the widow. Tod’s mother was actually running to escape being hunted (maybe by Amos Slade, who knows?), and being a good mother she dropped her baby fox near the widow’s house to protect him. She then escapes and sadly, meets an end just like Bambi’s mother!
It’s quite sad and depressing, but the reason I feel that this is forgotten is because nobody ever talks about how heart-wrenching this scene was for them. Everybody remembers Bambi’s mother and feels horrible when she’s shot by MAN,
but the same feelings don’t come through regarding Tod’s mother. Is it because we didn’t really know Tod’s mother and that she was just some minor character whereas Bambi’s mother actually had screen time and we got to see her raise her young deer?
Maybe! Whatever the reason, I do feel more thought should be given to Tod’s mother, after all if she didn’t do her best to protect Tod, we’d never have this movie! So, here’s to the late mother of Tod the fox!