A group of adolescent boys, placed in a summer camp by their otherwise too busy parents, find themselves unable to fit in and are soon branded as bedwetters by their fellow campers and unsympathetic counselor. After their counselor exposes them to what they perceive as a cruel slaughter of corralled bison, these misfits are soon drawn to a common purpose to break free of their camp and free the bison. On their way to free the bison, individual flashbacks reveal the relationships each has with his own family and give insight to their reasons behind wanting to set the bison free. Karen and Richard Carpenter's singing of the title song occurs now and again throughout the movie to underscore the the drama.
Bill Mumy ... Teft
Barry Robins ... Cotton
Miles Chapin ... Shecker
Darel Glaser ... Goodenow
Bob Kramer ... Lally 1
Marc Vahanian ... Lally II
Jesse White ... Shecker's Father
Ken Swofford ... Wheaties
Elaine Devry ... Cotton's Mother
David Ketchum ... Camp Director (as Dave Ketchum)
Vanessa Brown ... Goodenow's Mother
Wayne Sutherlin ... Hustler
William Bramley ... Goodenow's Grandfather
Yes...a masterwork. I don't throw that term around carelessly. But it is so much more than what meets the eye.
I saw this at 15, alone, one Saturday afternoon in a dark movie theater and my life was transformed. This is a coming-of-age movie that more people should watch at that turning point of their lives.
I know it gave me the feeling for the first time, that I wasn't alone feeling geeky, weird, and a stranger to the world. We can probably all relate to at least one of the archetypes Kramer used to tell this story. And that's a good thing, because it made me feel for the first time, that I was OK..that I did belong...that we all had something to contribute.
But it's not just about teen angst, it's about finding a place, a reason and a purpose to live for and finding the strength to follow through in the face of all adversity.
Much praise should be extended to the acting which was natural and never seemed forced....and of course, the music.
The Botkin/de Vorzon score (which went on to famous and infamous heights as 'Nadia's theme' and then the theme to 'The Young and The Restless'). The score highlighted with the Carpenters and Billy Mumy's song in the forest.
The recent passing of another of the 'great' directors prompted me to look back at Stanley Kramer's career. And that lead me to reflect upon my teenage experience of sitting in one of Melbourne's grand old picture houses one Saturday afternoon and viewing this movie for the first of what has now been many times.
Perhaps it was my age at the time, or my love of the outdoors, or my regular weekend hikes, or my love of animals... whatever it was, that 2 hours looking at the enormous screen was one I can recall with vivid clarity even 30 years on.
I remember how awesome the cinematography was it captured the beauty of the environment in those scenes where the misfit teenagers headed out across the plains to rescue the bison.
The music also evoked the essence of the outdoors for me. For many years after whenever I came up over a hill in the forest the Carpenters' music seemed to play in my head. It is just a shame that someone let the theme be [mis] appropriated to other less noble ends.
I have shown this movie to many teenage groups in the years since it opened. Although time has certainly moved on and much, especially the dress and manners has changed I have rarely found any teenager who has not been able to identify with the movie and the themes it seeks to explore.
Stanley Kramer made some wonderful, no some great movies. And while this may not rank as his greatest, for me it was and 'is' great as it allows this writer to revisit his teen years and relive a truly memorable period of his life.
Quite simply my favorite movie of all time. This is because of what it meant to me when I was growing up. Some movies are great because they impacted us when we were young. That is the case here. And it remains one of the rare movies that present the way many parents neglect and abuse their children. Another movie to me that captures many of the same elements is The Breakfast Club. The characters are shown as, some would say, troubled kids, but they are in fact survivors of unloving parenting. Seldom have movies shown the causes of the characters problems as well as this one. The conclusion of Bless the Beasts & Children shows how little adults can feel about children and how misplaced their priorities can be. This is a movie we can all learn from.
A film with some flaws but one that nonetheless strikes me as being ahead of its time in that it depicts a decidedly non-Disney side of man's interaction with wildlife. Some tonal struggles due to the juxtaposition of the kid's stories with the brutal hunting that they attempt to intercede with. Based on a great book. A powerful message film, and for me, the down ending struck a note that allows me to recall this film in great detail 30 years later. It stuck. Had the animal violence been less prominent, or the ending been a Disney 'happily-ever-after' I doubt it would have had this impact.