Movie Review – ‘Togo’

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

I saw an original Disney+ film on Disney+ last Friday. That happened to be ‘Togo’, a film released in December 2019, focusing on ‘the untold true story’ of Leonhard Seppala and his titular sled dog in the 1925 run to Nome to transport a vaccine through harsh conditions during a diphtheria epidemic.

It was fascinating and surreal to watch this film focusing on a diphtheria epidemic in 1920s America whilst a 2020 pandemic on the coronavirus is currently taking place – please keep safe. And this film was released before the pandemic ever happened. Art intimidating life can be so surreal at times. 😀

I found it intriguing to discover ‘the untold true story’ of Togo, a dog who happened to be legendary in saving millions of lives from a diphtheria epidemic just by leading a sled run of snow dogs through harsh snowy conditions. It was also really intriguing to see the connection Togo had with his master.

I had heard something about Balto being a legendary dog, but not Togo. The film also has elements of ‘The Call of the Wild’ about it. With that said, I think ‘Togo’ is a better film than ‘The Call of the Wild’. Not that ‘The Call of the Wild’ is awful, but ‘Togo’ has believable dogs appearing in this movie.

Also none of the dogs, including the titular dog, are CGI-ied in any way. The film features Willem Dafoe playing Leonhard Seppala who has a connection to Togo as his lead dog in the snow dogs’ sled run. For me, Willem Dafoe played the Green Goblin in the original ‘Spider-Man’ movie trilogy. 🙂

I’ve also seen him in films like ‘Mr. Bean’s Holiday’, 2017’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and ‘Aquaman’. He also voiced a character in the ‘Finding Nemo’ movies. 🙂 His performance as Leonhard Seppala is very good and it’s interesting how his bond with Togo grows and develops throughout the film itself.

There’s this certain grittiness to the film as well as to Leonhard Seppala’s character, especially when Willem Dafoe plays him. In certain flashbacks, Leonhard tries to get rid of Togo when he starts off as a troublesome puppy. But over time, Leonhard grows to appreciate and love Togo as a fellow dog. 🙂

Yeah, talking about the flashback scenes, there’s a certain 2019’s ‘Little Women’ approach to the storytelling in this film. By that I mean, we tend to jump back and forth 12 years earlier in the past to what happened to Togo as a pup before we return to the present as Togo leads the 1925 serum run.

But that isn’t too distracting as it was in 2019’s ‘Little Women’. In fact, I was able to appreciate the character development more when watching Leonhard and Togo in certain scenes in the past and in the present. The performances of Willem Dafoe and other actors playing characters help to that too.

As well as Willem Dafoe, there’s Julianne Nicholas as Constance Seppala, Leonhard’s wife. There’s Christopher Heyerdahl as Mayor George Maynard, Michael Gaston as Joe Dexter, Michael McElhatton as Jafet Lindeberg, Jamie McShane as Scotty Allan, Michael Greyeyes as Amituk, Thorbjørn Harr as Charlie Olsen, Shaun Benson as Gunnar Kaasen and Nikola Nikolaeff as Dan Murphy. Richard Dormer (who was in ‘We’re Doomed! The Dad’s Army Story’) also appears as Dr. Curtis Welch in the movie. And of course, Togo is played by Diesel. Diesel is a very good dog actor. 🙂

My Dad greatly enjoyed this film when we saw it on Disney+ recently. He liked the snowy atmosphere of the film, especially as it got him in the mood for Christmas. I suppose that’s why the film was released on Disney+ in December 2019. 😀 My Dad’s disappointed ‘Togo’s not available on DVD/Blu-ray yet. I don’t suppose ‘The Mandalorian’ series will be out on DVD/Blu-ray anytime soon.

Overall, I’m pleased I saw ‘Togo’ on Disney+ recently. It’s a good historical drama adventure film and Willem Dafoe is excellent in it as well as Diesel the dog playing Togo. It’s a film that’s made me appreciate history more and even dogs can be heroes in times of difficult crisis and braving through hardship. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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