I write a lot about how movies are, among other things, a visual medium, and so have a tendency to revel in offering visual treats for audiences that are sometimes unaccompanied or unenhanced by any dialogue or music. This dates all the way back to the days when movies did not have sound at all, and were paired only with a live orchestra to fill the silences and add to the visual narratives being played out on the screen. So naturally, animals have been obvious heroes of cinema since its inception.
Animals are like the perfect silent film stars. This is how we enjoy their company every day. There is no dialogue between human and non-human animals, no exposition used to advance plot, no pithy catchphrases to induce guffaws. We observe them, and appreciate them as beautiful but ultimately non-verbal creatures, silent stars of the movies of our lives. Human actors have the benefit of drawing our sympathy through their words and actions that are more easily understood on account of verbal explanation and clearer communication of their personalities. Animals actors reveal themselves in subtler ways, left up to the camera to catch each nuance and detail. It makes film into more of a director’s medium, the domain of an auteur, rather than theater.
There has been a wave of really memorable and endearing animal characters in movies in recent years. Here are 5 of the best.
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