|Directed By:||Simon Wells|
|Produced By:|| Steve Hickner|
Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Bonne Radford
|Starring:|| Kevin Bacon|
|Written By:|| Cliff Ruby|
David Steven Cohen
Roger S.H. Schulman
|Music By:||James Horner|
|Distributed By:||Universal Pictures|
|Release Date:||December 22, 1995|
|Running Time:||77 Minutes|
|Sequel:||Balto II: Wolf Quest|
Balto is an animated/live-action film produced by Steven Spielberg's Amblimation animation studio, and was put in theaters in 1995. Balto is based on a true story about the dog of the same name who helped save children from the diphtheria epidemic in the 1925 serum run to Nome.
The film opens in a live-action scene with an old woman (Miriam Margoyles) and a young girl (Lola Bates-Campbell) with her dog in Central Park, New York City. Grandma Rosy, the old woman, accidentally takes a wrong turn in the park, causing her granddaughter to ask what they are looking for. Her grandma explains that they are looking for a memorial, and begins to tell a story about Nome in 1925. After this, the film transitions to 2D animation.
A dog sled race is coming to an end as the teams run towards town and the two mile marker is announced. Balto, a wolfdog who is shunned by the townsfolk, heads towards the finish line with his goose friend, Boris.
One day, a dogsled race is being held. At the head end of one of the teams is Steele (voiced by Jim Cummings), a proud and fierce competitor. Balto and Boris are in Nome to watch the finish. While waiting for the teams to arrive, Balto sees a young girl named Rosy (voiced by Juliette Brewer) and her female husky, Jenna (voiced by Bridget Fonda). Balto immediately develops a crush on Jenna, and when Rosy loses her hat to the wind, Balto outruns the sled team and retrieves the hat to show off. However, when he tries to get closer to Jenna, she and Rosy are pulled away by Rosy's parents because they're afraid of Balto for being half-wolf. Balto and Boris dejectedly leave town, but not before being antagonized by Steele and his companions, Nikki, Kaltag and Star (voiced respectively by Jack Angel, Danny Mann, and Robbie Rist).
The night after the race, Rosy and several other children fall ill. As Jenna worriedly watches through the hospital window, Balto approaches and attempts to flirt, but Jenna is too distressed to be receptive. Balto and Jenna enter the underfloor area of the hospital and watch the doctor give the diagnosis — Rosy (and the other children) has diphtheria a deadly sickness, and the doctor has run out of antitoxin. An urgent request for medicine is transmitted, but sea and air routes fail and the closest rail line only goes to Nenana.
It is decided that a sled team will cover the last stretch. A race is held to determine the team members. Balto enters, and easily wins. However, he is disqualified when his heritage is revealed thanks to Steele. That night, the team (led by Steele) sets out to Nenana and picks up the medicine, however, they get lost on the way back and knock out the musher. The team now has no way home.
The news reaches Nome. Balto decides to set out on a rescue mission, accompanied by Boris, Muk and Luk. On the way, Balto marks the trail by clawing trees. Later, they are stalked and attacked by a large, and vicious black grizzly bear. The bear nearly kills Balto, but Jenna (who followed them) intervenes and attacks the bear. However, the bear injures Jenna and attacks Balto again. Balto eventually tricks the bear into walking onto a frozen lake, and it falls through the ice and drowns. Balto also falls through the ice, but he is saved by Muk and Luk. However, because of Jenna's injury, Balto orders Boris and the bears to take her home. Balto eventually finds the team and offers to help them get home. Seemingly having gone crazy, Steele does not want help, and a dogfight ensues, which ends with Steele plunging down a cliff (he is apparently uninjured) without Balto having attacked once. Even with his mentally deranged state, Steele manages to make it on top of the cliff and creates a false trail to throw Balto off course. Balto takes up the lead, but soon finds that Steele tampered with the trail markers Balto left on the way and becomes lost. Eventually the crate containing the medicine becomes untied and falls off a cliff. Balto catches it, but the ground gives way underneath him and both him and the crate drop into the abyss.
Balto wakes up at the bottom of the cliff, believing that he has failed. A large white wolf appears to him, and he turns away in shame. However, as the wolf walks away, Balto notices the intact crate nearby. He realizes that being part wolf is a strength, not a weakness, and embraces that heritage with a howl, joined by the white wolf. Afterward, Balto manages to drag the crate back up the cliff to the waiting team. They are quickly on their way again, Balto using his sense of smell to figure out which marks are his and which are Steele's.
After overcoming several near-catastrophes, Balto makes it back to Nome. Steele (who had told the other dogs that Balto died) is revealed to be a liar, and is abandoned by the other dogs in anger for his selfishness and arrogence. Boris, Muk, Luk, and Jenna (all of whom thought Balto was lost) are overjoyed, and the town gives Balto a hero's welcome and finally realizes their mistake of shunning him and treating him like a jerk for so many years.
Returning the present (and resuming the live-action sequence of the film), the old woman and the girl read the statue's plaque lauding the courage and fidelity of the sled dogs that prevented the great tragedy of Nome. After the woman explains that the trek is now honored with the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race that uses the same route the dog team relay took, the girl runs off playing sled dog with her own dog (a purebred husky puppy like Jenna named Blaze). Alone for a minute, the woman (who is later revealed to be Rosy in present time) says "Thank you Balto, I would have been lost without you". She leaves to join her granddaughter, and the movie ends as Balto's statue is seen standing proudly in the sunlight, symbolizing the true heroism of the misunderstood half husky-wolf.
Cast & Characters
Main article: List of characters in Balto
- Balto, voiced by Kevin Bacon, is the main protagonist, a young adult male wolf dog hybrid (half husky, half wolf).
- Boris, voiced by Bob Hoskins, is a russian snow goose who considers himself Balto's caretaker.
- Jenna, voiced by Bridget Fonda, is a young and beautiful, female siberian husky. She is Balto's love interest.
- Rosy, voiced by Juliette Brewer, is Jenna's owner. She is a kind excitable girl, and when she falls ill, Balto does everything he can to save her and the other children. Her adult self tells the tale to her granddaughter and is portrayed by Miriam Margoyles in the live-action segments.
- Steele, voiced by Jim Cummings, is the main antagonist. He is a fierce and arrogant purebred alaskan malamute.
- Muk & Luk, both voiced by Phil Collins, are a pair of polar bears.
- Nikki, voiced by Jack Angel, Kaltag, voiced by Danny Mann and Star, voiced by Robbie Rist, are a trio of dogs in Steele's team.
- Dixie, voiced by Sandra Dickinson, is a female pomeranian and one of Jenna's friends.
- Sylvie, voiced by Sandra Dickinson, is a female afghan hound.
Additional Characters include:
- Rosy's Granddaughter, played by Lola Bates-Campbell appears in the live-action section of the film with her dog Blaze.
- Mom Rosy's Mother, voiced by Sandra Dickinson.
- Dad Rosy's Father, voiced by William Roberts.
- Doctor, voiced by Donald Sinden.
- Butcher, voiced by Bill Bailey.
- Telegraph Operator, voiced by Garrick Hagon.
- Balto, Jenna, Boris, Kaltag, Star, Nikki, Steele and Muk & Luk never existed.
- There were 20 teams sent to get the medicine not one.
- Togo did most what Balto did in this film.
- Planes were never sent to get the medicine nor deliver as they were mainly used for war.
- The real Balto was a purebred Siberian Husky. He is partially an Alaskan tundra wolf in this animated film.
- In real life, Balto was neutered at six months of age. He was never able to mate with a female husky.
Deleted, storyboards or altered scenes
- Barrel Sequence - When Balto was gonna return Rosy's glove, Steele would roll a barrel at him and Balto ends getting caught. Balto was on top of the barrel but he jumps out landing near Rosy's dad's store which he tries to shoe him away till Rosy and Jenna come to his defense then her dad brings and the shop while Jenna smiles at Balto and heads inside the shop with Rosy. Three frames of the scene have been animated but two are in the Balto the hero book while one is the background of the selection screen of the film.
- In the original, when Balto and Jenna are in the boiler room Steele never comes in the sequence.
- Many people were confused why the Owl exist in the Balto film but it was figured out the Owl was meant to appear in a dream sequence.
- In the storyboards, there were many Balto & Jenna sequences that never made it into the final released.
- In the storyboards, When Steele was bullying Balto in an alley, Jenna would've come across it and observed Steele and his friends bullying Balto and Boris.
- In the storyboards, sometime during the film, Balto and Jenna follow Doc with something.
- Near the end, two dogs are seen fighting over Jenna's bandanna but Ebay claims the two dog are Balto and Steele fighting.
- Near the end, when Balto returned with the medicine, Steele tries to threaten him but a lot of Steele's former companions come to Balto's defense but when Steele tries to leave, Star takes the collar off of Steele and gives to Balto. But after the dogs want Balto to have it, Balto tells them that they should let Steele keep it.
- Most famously, near the end, Steele tries to pounce on Balto but he dodges it, but then all the dogs corner Steele while growling at him. Steele tries to keep his collar but a leaver pulls his collar off and Steele fell to his death/was buried alive.
- There's still various storyboards aren't completely answered.
- The film was overshadowed by Disney's 'Toy Story'
- It didn't do well at the box office but it do great a home sells! As well as making it's money back
- This was Amblimation's last film.
- It was one of the honorable mentions in WatchMojo's 'top 10 underrated movies'.
- When Nostalgia Critic reviewed it, the film ended up gaining a lot popularity.
- In certain covers, it futures different characters such as Balto, Jenna, Rosy, Boris, Muk & Luk, Steele, Star, Nikki, Kaltag and mushers.