Rewriting history isn’t something new to the activist era of Hollywood. Before culturally appropriating Egyptian history (which according to this video bombed hard) or depicting actual slave traders as the heroes against the slave trade Hollywood would alter historical facts simply because they thought it would make a more interesting movie. The life story of Patch Adams for example wasn’t about damning the man and the female love interest in the movie who’s story arc of “learning to trust men” was totally undone by her being killed by a man the moment her guard was let down…that was actually Patch’s platonic guy friend. This can also be harmful to people’s reputations. I don’t recall the name and typing “movie about a woman trying to prove the child the police brought back wasn’t her actual son” brought up nothing useful but I do remember reading that the police and judge were turned into the villains of the story out of the belief the story needed one. There’s a whole website devoted to debunking the Hollywood version of “true to life events”. (No, typing that phrase in didn’t help.)
Then again, the story of Balto and the famous “serum run” was already horribly inaccurate before Amblin Entertainment got their hands on it. Balto is a very well told story about a half-wolf dog who must overcome doggy prejudice and the elements to get an important serum back to their Alaskan village to save a little girl’s life. It’s based on a true story that shows even the news media will gladly take the easy way out and insist the story needs a “face” to rally around and only cares who makes the last part of the journey. The true story is more amazing, and yet more sad, than the talking dog movie that was incredibly well done but also incredibly inaccurate.
Then there are the sequels. Forgetting that Balto was an actual dog the sequels are an insult to the first movie even when you factor in the lack of Don Bluth (who was also done a bit dirty) and the home video budget Universal gave them to work with. It’s a long video by Saberspark, about an hour and a half, but that’s how long he needs to get the point across that Balto was a great movie but everything around it was basically terrible. Saberspark, aided at one point by his friend Rishi, goes over the history of the serum run, including parts the movie skipped over, the terrible treatment of the sled dogs involved, the TRUE history of Balto…and then pours salt in the wounds by going over the terrible sequels that showed no effort was put into it, unlike the amazing theatrical movie.
Hopefully it’s still up. Universal and YouTube’s bots kept trying to skirt fair use and force Saberspark to re-edit this thing multiple times before finally getting it up. Apparently they’re as bad as Japan. Head over to Saberspark’s YouTube channel and show him some love for all the work he and his team put into getting this thing out finally.
I’m not sure what I can add to this. I certainly didn’t know the full history of the serum run. How many of you even knew this was based on an actual event? See, this is what I was talking about. Movie watchers who only see this will think they know the whole story, at best realizing the antagonist and various talking animals were the only additions. Balto’s not even part wolf. (I needed a wolf in my media library anyway so if you saw the featured promo image and wondered why I still went with a wolf in the tweets, Tumblr, and archive postings, that’s why.) There are unsung heroes of the story. I’ve seen worse abuses of history for the sake of the narrative but it’s still disappointing how many of us, myself included, only heard this stuff for the first time. Obviously the movie wasn’t going to cover everything, especially the real downer parts, but Togo could have at least gotten some praise and I’m glad he did eventually get the honor he deserved even if we determine his master was obviously a bit biased.
As for the sequels, this is what happens when money is more important than story. It doesn’t matter if the story is good so long as they get the money…not realizing that if the story was good people would praise it, other people would want to get it, and that would equal more money. Quick cash grabs with cheap marketing rarely works. If there was no more story to tell even from a fictional perspective, don’t waste resources on something that could be spent on something worthwhile. Long term usually offers better results.
So that’s the sad story of Balto. How much of this did you know about? And congratulations to Saberspark for finally getting an edit that the copywrite bots wouldn’t go crazy over. This is why people are looking for alternatives to YouTube.