Animals in Film

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Portrayal of Animals in Film

Animals are widely used in the film industry for various reasons, but are they always accurately represented? In the reboots of "Planet of the Apes," I highly praised the use of non-verbal communication between the animals, as a lot of the way animals communicate is through body language. However, horses are commonly portrayed as loud and always making a sound if they are on screen, which is very inaccurate of horse communication. Film is an intriguing medium that uses both sight and sound, so a lot of animals have sounds inserted to add to the verisimilitude, but it can actually detract – in my opinion – when animals who wouldn’t normally be making sounds are indeed doing so. Thoughts?

  • This is a neat idea for a paper, and I like the example of the horse (I know nothing about horses, so I never would have guessed how they really communicate). This reminds me of the classic "bald eagle on screen with a red tailed hawk's cry, because bald eagles sound like chickens, and an accurate cry would spoil the drama of said eagle" thing. However, I'd like for this topic to have a clear thesis; what are the ramifications of inaccurate portrayals of animal behavior? What are the merits of accurate animal portrayals versus the merits of tailoring a fantasy about that animal for the viewers to enjoy? – TheCropsey 5 years ago
  • Right, or the use of a tiger's roar in "The Lion King" because they are louder. – Sara L. 5 years ago
  • I think that movie directors try to add as many effects to movies as they can because in their mind it will improve the movie. So I doubt that they will choose to resort to accurate portrayal of animal sounds if they feel that it will result in scenes that are lacking detail. – Health 5 years ago
  • I thought communication was handled somewhat awkwardly in the recent Planet of the Apes films. It was unclear to me why Caesar and others were able to "evolve" to be able to speak, but only at times of emotional stress. I may be misremembering the film, but I thought it was an inconsistent and inaccurate (albeit, fictional) portrayal of primate communication. – Dropoutbear93 5 years ago
  • Dropoutbear93, The evolution of the primates is not exactly what I was referring to, as you do make valid points to that unrealistic representation. I am referring to when they communicate to each other through a lot of gestures (not strictly in sign language), and body language in addition to the general grunts and howls we think of when we picture ape communication. – Sara L. 5 years ago