The Fox and the Hound vs. The Fox and the Hound

 

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It’s rather apt that Disney’s The Fox and the Hound and Daniel P. Mannix’s The Fox and the Hound are about as compatible as, um, a real life fox and hound.

Part of the reason was good old fashioned politics. To carry on the Disney legacy, many “new bloods” were hired to work with the remaining Nine Old Men or original core animators, and some were at odds with the rose-tinted direction the story was taking. So much so that one of said new bloods left with some colleagues to start up the first company to ever rival Disney, at least in the 80s. You may know him as Don Bluth.

With most of the naysayers out of the way, a story about the unlikely friendship between a fox cub and a bloodhound puppy could finally emerge in 1981, even though it had caused a year-long delay, become the most expensive animated film to date and created Disney’s own worst enemy in the process.

The other reason? Probably because no one could find the damn novel anyway. Despite having “magician,” “circus performer” and “hunter” on his CV, as well as a menagerie with foxes, eagles, an ocelot and even a ten foot alligator in the family swimming pool at one point, author Daniel P. Mannix himself is rather elusive when it comes to biographical information, and he seems to have transferred this skill to his 1967 novel. When it isn’t topping £130 on Amazon you would need a whole fleet of Coppers to find it, so we will have to make do with the condensed Readers Digest version. But worry not, as the only thing missing here is why Disney didn’t just change the title and have done with it.

The Foundling Fox

Disney version

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It’s traditional for a Disney owl to be woken by a new arrival, but in Big Mama’s case the news arrives via dog bark and gunshots rather than cheery birdsong, and any gasps are reserved for the mother’s suicide run rather than the baby itself. Left all alone while the vixen catches a bullet, the fox cub is helpless and Big Mama realises she has to foist him onto someone else as soon as possible.

By hatching a plan with feathered friends Dinky and Boomer, and stealing a pair of pink bloomers, she manages to grab the attention of Widow Tweedy who lives in a nearby cottage. Fortunately, Tweedy is the incidental badass of mortal Disney grannies and happily takes in the orphan, naming him “Tod” as he is “such a little toddler”. Big Mama and the others look on as the little cub is carried away into the house, moments before the local neighbourhood hunter, Amos, pulls up next door with a brand new hunting dog. Nice one, Bird Brains.

Mannix version

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Image by Eric Bégin

Believe it or not, the Disney version is the best case scenario. In the book, Tod and his mother don’t even make it out of the den.

The fox cub’s first memory is the stench of fear and the sound of men and dogs digging them out of their earth. Unlike his siblings, who run around like the headless chickens they likely ate last week, Tod keeps as cool as a cucumber and simply waits for his mother’s escape plan. She carries him to an exit burrow, and one of the terriers kindly spares her a return trip by breaking into the tunnel and savaging the other cubs to death. The vixen then tries to dig another route out and for a brief moment she and Tod are buried in enough dirt that the dogs can’t smell them.

The men are just about to call off their hunt when another terrier picks up their scent. The vixen rewards its diligence by snapping its spine in two, but is caught herself when trying to tunnel her way up through the roof, leaving Tod all alone in a cacophony of death. He stays still and quiet, trying to hide right under his enemies’ noses, and they either pity his stupidity or are embarrassed at having missed him, because one of the hunters, a local farmer, puts him in a sack and takes him home to adopt him.

Hands up who knows why Disney changed this part.

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/local-news/orphaned-fox-cub-found-side-3408655

Wisely opting for a cross-country chase rather than a full-on fox massacre, the film paints our orphaned Tod as a victim who is quickly rescued and given an alternative guardian with the help of some wacky side characters. We never see how the hunt started or if he even had any siblings, and since the neighbouring hunter arrives separately, with a new dog instead of a trophy, we can assume he wasn’t involved. Mannix’s Tod isn’t spared any such horror as he is rescued by one of the very hunters who killed his family rather than a gushing little old lady, and his mother is torn apart by dogs rather than blasted with a shotgun. Tod himself is shown to be a survivor as well as a victim – he was spared because he knew to keep still and quiet while all hell broke loose around him. Well, at least he escaped having an old woman’s pants dropped on his head.

You’ll be pleased to know that our opposing hunting dogs are introduced in much less traumatic a manner.

Copper and Chief

Disney version

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Luckily for Tod, next door’s new hunting dog is more interested in being cute than attacking anything. The resident hunting dog, a wolfhound named Chief, is getting long in the tooth and doesn’t like this fact being rubbed in his face by the newcomer, but Amos instructs him to teach the young bloodhound how to become a hunter. Despite appearances, Chief is a softy at heart and allows the puppy, named Copper, to sleep on him when no one is looking and grudgingly teaches him everything he knows.

Much to Chief’s chagrin, Copper is an apt pupil and is rewarded with a seat at the front of the truck and even Amos’ hat when they return from their winter hunting trip. Since the bloodhound is so keen to learn and impress rather than humiliate or upstage, the older dog seems grumpy at the situation rather than him personally, and although their bond doesn’t quite reach father-son status, by the end of the film Copper and Chief are content in each other’s company.

Mannix version

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Image Gilliamhome on Flickr.

The book is the opposite of pretty much everything I just said. To start with, Copper is the old timer and Chief is the young upstart, and the former utterly hates the latter.

The half-breed bloodhound used to be the master’s favourite, but Chief, a Trigg hound (a type of American foxhound) now carries that distinction and constantly tries to lead the charge when they are out hunting. If that weren’t bad enough, by the occasional fluke Chief has found a scent that Copper was tracking and then taken all the credit for it. Consequently, whenever the master takes Copper out on a hunt, albeit with the police or for game, the bloodhound tries to rush him along so he doesn’t take the younger dog with them. He is particularly put out when he is the one who tracks down the body of a hunter killed by a bear, but the master sees fit to bring Chief and all the other dogs along as well when they go to capture it.

The reason for this is soon revealed; Copper is an absolute wimp in a fight, so when he finds the bear he doesn’t know what to do with it. After it flings the other dogs around like cushions it decides to go for the hunters, and it’s Chief who dashes in to save the master, seizing the bear in a tender spot probably best left to the imagination. As the master lavishes praise and attention on the Trigg hound for saving his life, Copper flushes with anger and shame as he was unable to protect his owner. Meanwhile the bear is torn to pieces by the other dogs.

Don't worry Koda, all the dogs got turned into bears to teach them a lesson. Maybe.

Don’t worry Koda, they were all turned into bears to teach them a lesson. Maybe.

In an interesting parallel with the animators, which is also mentioned in the DVD documentary, the Disney version shows the passing of the torch from old to young in the best way possible. The newcomer is so happy at their success and respectful of their elder that it’s hard for the old timer to be too offended. Conversely, the Mannix version shows the worst possible outcome, with the older dog jealous and angry and the upstart trying to take the credit away from them, consciously or otherwise. Copper and Chief’s ages are also swapped in the original novel, with Chief a different breed of dog entirely, and there is no mentor-pupil relationship at all, just good old wholesome hatred. We also see that Copper is a multi-purpose tracker who may or may not be a coward.

One particular animal he tracks will leave a mark on him forever more, in both versions no less.

The Best of Friends…?

Disney version

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Young Tod and Copper have a few things in common. As well as being godawful at Hide and Seek they are both surrounded by old people (or animals) and want to explore further afield. Tod is basically kicked out of Tweedy’s barn for causing a ruckus, whereas Copper picks up a strange scent that he can’t place. While Chief tuts disapprovingly, the puppy wanders off in search of the source, whereupon he comes face to face with the fox cub.

ONE DAY THIS WILL BE THE SOUND OF YOUR DEATH.

ONE DAY THIS WILL BE THE SOUND OF YOUR DEATH.

They form an instant friendship and after a couple of days’ frolicking acknowledge (rather than pledge) that it will last forever. A dog-shaped obstacle is about to put this to the test, as soon after Amos becomes fed up of Copper running off and decides to tie him to his makeshift kennel next to Chief. Tod comes over to play anyway, and despite Copper’s nervous warnings, he thinks that poking a veteran hunting dog in its sleep is a great idea. It turns out that Chief is a softy except when faced with anything other than a dog or human and chases Tod viciously and hilariously across the farm, resulting in Amos taking a few pot shots that blast Widow Tweedy’s milk canisters to smithereens. Hmm, there was probably a better way to phrase that.

The subsequent shouting match between Tweedy and Amos means the friends are separated – Tod is confined to the house, and Copper later leaves with his master and mentor on a winter hunting trip. Much to Tod’s dismay and disbelief, Big Mama tries to convince him that their friendship is over by sort-of singing a song about how he will come back a fully-fledged hunting dog. Dinky and Boomer try to assist by showing Tod Amos’ shed of animal trophies, explaining that Copper will play a part in collecting them. While Tod’s mind isn’t completely destroyed by the sight, or the fact that him being a fox means he will also hunt most of these animals if he doesn’t already, he still has trouble believing Copper will go from this:

copper brow

to this:

predator

Consequently, when winter is over, the hunters are home and both Tod and Copper are adults, the fox is shocked at the bloodhound’s response to his visit – their bromance is officially over as he has a career now.

Friends forever, folks!

Mannix version

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In the time it takes Mannix’s Copper to track down Tod, the latter has had two sets of cubs and most of the surrounding countryside has been converted into housing estates. Simply put, the pair don’t officially meet until the very end of the novel, much less form any kind of bond other than hunter and hunted.

That’s not to say that foxes and hounds don’t ever get along in the book. Part of the reason Tod stays calm during the attack on his family is because the scent of dogs isn’t strange to him – it’s the scent of human that freaks him out – so when he is plopped on to the kitchen floor as a cub, he finds the farmer’s puppy bemusing rather than terrifying. The pair grow up together, but Tod quickly tires of his company as well as that of the farmer’s and elects to spend most of his time outside before leaving for good. The only dogs he encounters thereafter are after his blood or are used as amusement, often both. His two favourite games involve taunting them by leaping just out of reach of their kennel chains and leading them directly into a herd of angry cows. It’s implied that he meets Copper while playing the first game, but neither animal appreciates the other’s importance until something happens to Chief.

Essentially the film’s friendship and the conflict it causes are non-existent in the novel. The only bond Tod has with a dog is with the farmer’s puppy, but he soon loses interest in him, just as he and the farmer don’t seem particularly bothered about parting ways. This is in contrast to the film where Tod is the one who seems set on maintaining their friendship, and Tweedy is extremely protective of him. In both cases though the fox is a bit of a shit-stirrer with any dogs he didn’t befriend as a cub, and lacks any sense of danger whatsoever.

These characteristics pave the way for the biggest life change for Tod since his mother died.

Off the Rails

Disney version

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Tod and Copper’s friendship may not last forever, but one thing certainly does – Chief’s enthusiasm for dead fox. While Copper gently tries to persuade Tod to leave before they get into trouble, the wolfhound wakes up and goes straight for his throat. Fortunately he was still chained, but as Tod dashes away Amos bursts out of the house and unties both hunting dogs, ordering them to chase down that sneaky no-good fox. Tod’s hiding skills have improved somewhat, but Copper still happens upon him crouching in a wood pile and takes the honourable decision to let him go just this once.

Redeemed, for some reason Tod decides to run even further away from the safety of Tweedy’s house and up along the railway bridge. He then has to decide which fate is worse – an coming train or Chief’s uber-sharp teeth, both of which have appeared out of the dark and are fast approaching. Fortunately he realises he can just duck between the tracks, and I would say Chief isn’t as fortunate as he is elbowed off the bridge into the river below, but given what a speeding train normally does to you, I would say he has better luck than Tod ever had.

Finding Chief collapsed with a severely injured leg, Copper is furious and makes a new pledge with Tod – that he will rip him asunder when he catches him, a policy also heartily endorsed by Amos. Well, what did Tod expect if he stayed friends with this guy?

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Mannix version

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It’s just another day of dog-baiting for a bored and mischievous Tod, and another day of the dogs barking and howling like demons possessed whenever he gets near. At least until the master opens the door to see what the fuss is about, and Chief manages to break loose from his chain.

In Tod’s first “Oh shit” moment for a long while, he bolts across the field with the Trigg hound in hot pursuit, trying to remember his usual tricks and escape routes. When these fail, and the dog doesn’t obey his master’s calls, he remembers an iron track where a huge iron monster occasionally roars back and forth, and since today he decided to tease the dogs earlier than normal, he knows that it hasn’t had its daily roar yet. He leads Chief along the railway line and then leaps out of the way at the very last minute, hearing a scream of pain as the train thunders past behind him.

The master arrives soon after, and for a long time stares down at Chief’s remains on the track. Eventually, sobbing, he picks him up and shouts angrily to anyone who will listen, swearing vengeance on the fox. Tod can’t understand English, but even from the safety of the juniper patch he senses that he took things a bit far this time. From then on, the master is set on tracking him down, and Copper is only too willing to assist – not because he is sorry for the Trigg hound’s death, but because it makes his owner happy.

One thing the old and new animators couldn’t agree on was Chief’s demise, as they had never killed off a main character and weren’t willing to do so now.

(COUGH)

In any event, Chief’s accident spells doom not only for Tod and Copper’s friendship but also Tod himself, as both master and bloodhound make it their mission in life to catch and kill him. You could argue that Disney Tod is treated a little unfairly as he never intended for Chief to get mown down by a train – he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and on this occasion he wasn’t poking about in Chief’s barrel, so you can’t blame him for the wolfhound going after him. Mannix’s Tod, while still being a fox trying to survive, was decidedly more of an ass-hat this time by deliberately leading the dog to its death. Both Coppers, meanwhile, do a U-turn with their respective characters, with one reneging on his decision to spare the fox and former friend, and the other seemingly happy to avenge the death of his former rival.

Having a hunter and a bloodhound on your trail certainly makes life more interesting, especially in the great outdoors.

Born to Be Wild

Disney version

Caution, DUMBO levels of sadness approaching.

Caution, DUMBO levels of sadness approaching.

Like any good parent, Widow Tweedy has done her utmost to protect Tod, including facing down Amos’ shotgun not once but twice, and even firing it herself to get her point across. However, when Amos tries to barge into her home, yelling and waving his gun around about Tod’s latest adventure and how he will pay for Chief’s injury, Tweedy solemnly realises that she can’t keep the fox confined to the cottage or even on the ranch. She makes the tearful decision to turn him loose in the game preserve the very next day, and just to compound Tod’s bad luck, there is a torrential downpour as soon as her cart disappears down the hill.

Raised on human cuddles, food and a warm basket by the fire, Tod is utterly clueless at what to do and not only faces the wrath of a badger when he tries to take shelter, but gets woken the next day by an arse full of spines from a porcupine who took pity on him and let him stay his burrow. Left to wander alone, feeling sorry for himself, Tod’s only friend comes in the form of Big Mama, who has an idea how to cheer him up in his new environment.

Mannix version

http://www.state.nj.us/dep/ga50/photocontest.html

Red Fox at Wild Acres, by Sandy Urgo

Conversely, Mannix’s Tod is the James Bond of wild foxes.

When he’s a cub, he refuses to be trained like the puppy, and can’t wait to leave the house and explore the fields and farmland. As an adult, in addition to teasing and outwitting the dogs, he both works out how to and becomes addicted to springing gin traps, regardless of whether they are set upright or upside down, which must have caused many a WTF moment among the hunters. Although he doesn’t manage to free any of the other foxes who get caught in them, he does bring them food to look after them and if it’s a cub he will stay with them until he hears human footsteps approaching.

Throughout his life of leading his pursuers into cow stampedes and cow catchers, he also survives an epidemic of rabies that annihilates the other foxes, including a violent encounter with a rabid fox, and survives the subsequent wave of poisonings used to wipe them out. And, as you would expect, he’s a lady killer, in more ways than one as we will discover.

It’s interesting that for all Disney Tod’s inexperience with life in the wild, the worst thing to befall him so far is a bit of rain and an angry badger, whereas Mannix’s Tod shrugs off lethal metal contraptions, zombies and chemical warfare like any action hero, even though he was also raised by a human and enjoyed all the comforts associated with it. However, he rejects this, follows the call of nature and flourishes, while Disney Tod can’t adjust at all and ends up wandering around not knowing what to do next. Luckily for both of them, life in the wild isn’t just harsh and dangerous – it comes with other types of thrill too.

Foxy Lady

Disney version

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While Big Mama flaps through the forest looking for Tod she bumps into Vixy, who professes an obvious interest in any new and handsome fox in the area. In comparison to Friend Owl, Big Mama encourages the pair to meet, and Tod is utterly star stuck by this alluring female, telling her her name is beautiful rather than asking if her parents had any imagination. Things don’t go precisely to plan when Tod attempts to show off his fishing skills, ends up a bit of a drip and then berates Vixy for laughing at him, but, as with any female, all is forgiven with a flower and a snuggle (and Big Mama’s intervention). The work of a Disney owl is never complete as Big Mama’s job is now shooing away all the voyeuristic birds, and the badger for some reason, as the pair wander off into the forest together.

Vixy rather unsubtly voices a preference for “six” of something, and the next morning the two foxes emerge from her den as happy as Larry, with Tod learning that sex can be used to sell anything, even life in the woods.

Anyone who lives near wild foxes will sympathise with the animals in their neighbourhood that night.

Mannix version

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Red_Fox_(Vulpes_vulpes)_-British_Wildlife_Centre-8.jpg

“You have a beautiful voice, like rusty nails, a remote controlled car and a hyperactive dolphin rolled into one.”

As I mentioned earlier, Tod ends up a womaniser, but like his Disney incarnation he is rather clueless the first time around. It’s an older vixen who makes a move on him first, and he only works out what to do when he grabs her by the scruff of the neck to stop her messing about. After the deed he wants to go off on his own, but eventually decides to stay with her and help raise their cubs. The vixen is bossy and possessive and so doesn’t follow his lead when he tries to pick a safer den for the family, meaning that the master and Copper eventually find them and gas them all. The parents escape, but the vixen later comes a cropper in a gin trap.

Tod’s next bride doesn’t fare much better. He finds her cowering, dirty and uninterested in anything, but manages to convince her of his awesomeness and they also have a family together. This time, she is happy for him to choose a den for them and he picks one with plenty of escape routes lest they enjoy the same fate as his last set of cubs. This is all for nothing, because the master has procured a recording of a rabbit and a cub in pain, and one by one all of the family, except for Tod, are duped and run right into the hunter’s hands.

As time goes on, Tod’s surroundings become more urbanised and the vixens he meets are more promiscuous and in less need of help for food, as there is plenty of it from the overflowing bins in town. This defeats the point of Tod hanging around his mate and offspring, so he eventually tires of family life too. This is just as well, as he’s about to become full-time prey for Copper and his master.

In the film and book Tod needs some help with his first romantic encounter, and luckily the vixen is already on board to make things easier. The Disney version only includes the possibility of cubs, which is probably a good thing considering the Mannix version has a terrible track record, even with his survival skills, and of course we only see Tod have one girlfriend. Another difference is that the issue of progress rears its head again in the novel – that of the countryside becoming developed and the negative change in the foxes as a result. Any change that Disney Tod sees is good, as he begins to enjoy his life in the woods and starts to adapt by dating a local.

Speaking of progress, let’s now look at how Copper and his master are doing on their mission.

A Hunt to End All Hunts

Disney version

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Copper and Amos sneak into the game preserve armed with gin traps, most of which Amos places along a very specific route through the forest. Just to reinforce how bad his luck is, Tod chooses this one route when he and Vixy go for a drink of water, and they narrowly escape both metal and canine jaws as Copper lunges after them. The fox and bloodhound relive their play-fighting days by actually fighting each other, until Tod makes his second dash for Vixy’s den in the last 24 hours.

Trapped, the foxes appear doomed as Amos tries to smoke them out, but Tod and Vixy brave the flames and charge up the mountainside to safety. As Copper and Amos scramble up after them, a huge grizzly bear wakes up and has a huge and satisfying stretch. Instinctively Amos fires a shot into its shoulder, so the understandably irked bear goes for him and Copper. Poetic justice in the form of a gin trap closes around the hunter’s boot, leaving the bloodhound to fend off the beast. The bear slaps him about until Tod has a crisis of conscience and tears down the mountainside, hurling himself into the fray to save them.

"My ear! My one weakness!"

“My ear! My one weakness!”

A gun and an angry dog are far less threatening than a sheltered fox, and so the bear scuffles with and chases Tod back up the mountain. Cornered precariously over a waterfall on a log bridge, Tod believes this is it, until the bear is accommodating and basically kills itself by swiping said bridge in half with its own paw. Fox and bear then tumble down into the misty spray.

Mannix version

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The Fox Hunt, by Alexandre-François Desportes

Copper and his master end up pursuing Tod for many years, and not because they can’t tell him apart from the other foxes. Their methods include using packs of hounds, finding his trails and chasing him along them into the path of a hunter’s gun or car (foiled by an oncoming lorry), the aforementioned gin traps, gas, recordings and of course poison during the rabies epidemic. Over the years, the other dogs die off, the other hunters move away and more and more housing estates crop up, leaving Copper and his master all alone. One particular day the master is encouraged to move into an old people’s home, something he refuses to do as it would mean separating him from his beloved bloodhound, but the tables turn and they gain favour again when it’s discovered there is still one fox standing in the area, and he and Copper are the best hunters available to dispatch it. Funny that, seeing as they’ve utterly failed to catch the original fox they set out for.

This time things will be different though, because Tod isn’t so well these days. Although unlike the others he survived eating poisoned carrion  – he ate the smallest Russian doll in the set – it’s taken its toll on his older body, and when tracked continuously over a day and night he’s unable to lose his pursuers. He eventually collapses and lies waiting for the inevitable as the master and Copper gain ground.

Both Tods demonstrate incredible survival skills as well as taking on impossible odds without so much as a shrug, but in the film, Tod manages to protect his mate and his old friend, while Mannix’s Tod loses pretty much everything, including the rest of his species, mostly due to the hunter and Copper’s persistence. Disney also introduce the bear as an even bigger enemy for the characters, one which also unites them, and unlike the book Copper is brave and tries to defend Amos from its claws. The hunt is also over fairly quickly in comparison to the novel, where it spans many years and becomes a lifelong vendetta rather than what is arguably an impulse kill.

With the foxes now cornered or possibly dead, will the dog and his master do the deed?

The Fox and the Hound

Disney version

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A dishevelled and broken Tod crawls out from the waterfall and collapses in the water, with no sign of the bear anywhere. Copper, with both a confused and blown mind, stands on the shore not knowing what to do, at least until Amos wearily approaches with his trusty shotgun and aims at the fox. Hoping to show him he’s an ungrateful bastard, Copper quickly stands over Tod and woefully stares his master down. The hunter relents, probably thinking a fox that survived traps, fire, a bear attack and a cliff fall is impervious to bullets, and decides it’s time to go home. The fox and the hound then exchange an exhausted but knowing smile before going their separate ways.

Later, back at the ranch, Widow Tweedy dutifully checks the bandage of the man who swore to kill her pet, and Copper lies in his kennel, reminiscing about his friendship with Tod. Tod himself sits on a hillside overlooking the houses, disconcertingly within the range of a gun, and appears to reminisce just as deeply before being distracted by his lady friend.

Mannix version

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Study of a Bloodhound, by William Holman Hunt.

Tod isn’t the only one exhausted after the chase. When the bloodhound finally catches up with his quarry, he can barely walk and has just about enough energy to finish the job before collapsing on top of him.

When Copper is conscious enough to work out what’s happening, he’s back in his home and surrounded by men pointing flashing boxes at Tod’s lifeless corpse. The fox is skinned and then nailed to the wall, and for a time, Copper and his master enjoy heroic status for killing the last one in the area. Such bliss on Copper’s side doesn’t last, because soon after the same men come knocking and urge the master to move into an old people’s home. This isn’t only due to his age and his apparent alcoholism – it’s implied the men want to build more houses, and the hunter’s home is the only thing standing in their way.

Unfortunately, this is not an option.

Unfortunately, this is not an option.

The master breaks down and cries, much to Copper’s confusion, before taking the bloodhound outside with a shotgun. He covers the dog’s eyes, and Copper’s last thought is that he’ll be happy as long as he’s always with his master.

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Quick! Think happy thoughts!

The one thing linking the film to the original here is the hound standing over the fox. Everything that comes after is entirely different –  neither Tod nor Copper escape the hunter in the book, and the hunter is also at the mercy of his own kind as he must give up his way of life and sacrifice his only companion for the sake of progress. This is in contrast to the film where the humans both relent when shown the error of their ways and also put any grievances to rest, i.e. Tweedy helping Amos with his bandages in spite of their previous arguments. Copper and Tod also acknowledge their friendship and part ways peacefully, as opposed to being united in death.

Conclusion

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Despite the rosy outlook of the film, Disney’s The Fox and the Hound actually has some depressing elements. Namely how societal rules can force people and friendships apart, and how doing the right thing for your friends and family can be painful, both emotionally and physically, especially if a grizzly bear is involved. It also hammers home the importance of loyalty and tolerance, as long as those societal rules are adhered to. Given Disney’s usual track record, you probably thought Amos was going to take Tod home with him too, didn’t you?

Of course, this doesn’t stop it from being the polar opposite of Mannix’s novel. The title The Fox and the Hound is used to compare the lives of two different animals who barely meet, and teaches that whether you’re man’s best friend or enemy, you’re buggered. And if you’re a man or woman yourself, society also has it in for you in form of progress, which doesn’t happen without some form of sacrifice. In fact, progress is the evil monster in the book as it can take away the warmth of relationships (Tod), your personal liberties (the master), or your way of life, although your actual life may be taking it a bit far (Copper).

What does form a link between the film and novel is Tod and Copper’s respective characters, as well as the nature vs. nurture argument. Both Disney and Mannix’s foxes are survivors with a sense of adventure who often take suicidal risks, and for the most part emerge victorious. The bloodhounds are also obedient and fiercely loyal to those closest to them, even if this is at odds with others they have met in their lives. What’s more, the Tods end up flourishing in the wild, even though they were hand-reared, and once in the great outdoors they don’t ever look back. In the end, both fox and hound follow nature’s call, albeit as a hunter and tracker or a dog-bothering scamp.

The moral of the story? You can typecast a dog and a fox all you want, but humans can be as different as a Disney adaptation.

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I.e, very.

Sources

1) The Fox and the Hound, 1981. Film. Directed by Ted Burman, Richard Rich and Art Stevens, U.S.A. Walt Disney Pictures.

2) Mannix, Daniel P. The Fox and the Hound:Reader’s Digest Condensed Books Volume 4. Reader’s Digest Association, Canada, 1967. First Edition.

3) Sito, Tom, 1998: ‘Disney’s The Fox and the Hound: The Coming of a New Generation”, accessed 3rd September 2013, http://www.awn.com/mag/issue3.8/3.8pages/3.8sitofox.html

4) ‘Daniel Mannix, 85, Adventure Writer’, 1997, accessed 10th September 2013,  http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/08/arts/daniel-mannix-85-adventure-writer.html

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