First things first, I have decided it is time to try something new for my latest film review. I have decided to have a change from reviewing Japanese Anime films and I think it is about time that I did on the whole. Therefore for this review, I am focusing my attention on the story of ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’.
Now, as was the case with my last film review, I am reviewing a film that can only be seen by a British audience on YouTube unless in this case, you happen to own a multi-region DVD Player. Therefore, I once again am composing this review to the best of what I have managed to gather from watching the film on YouTube. Anyway here goes, the film is based on the posthumous 1899 novel of the same name by Ethel C. Pedley (1859-1898).
The film begins with 5-year-old Dot (Barbara Frawley) lost and alone in the woods of New South Wales after asking her parents’ permission to go off exploring only to fall down an embankment. Wondering through the woods and encountering wild animals, the child is thankfully found by a mother kangaroo (Joan Bruce who also plays Dot’s mother) who has lost her joey and therefore is inclined to help Dot. Thus Dot embarks on an amazing musical adventure through the wilds of the Australian Outback in the safety of the kangaroo’s pouch.
Now, the kangaroo can keep Dot safe but she cannot help her alone and the other animals of the forest cannot help them either, mostly due to their anger towards humans. ‘What have the humans ever done for us?’ Some of the animals ask aloud despite most of them being friendly towards Dot. Indeed, by this time, Dot’s parents have realised their daughter’s absence and her father (Ron Haddrick) and grandfather are looking for her.
The other animals put their anger to one side upon hearing of the kangaroo’s reasons for helping Dot and recommend seeking help from the platypus couple (June Salter and the great Spike Milligan). This our heroines do, discovering the Jenolan caves that are along the way and learning of the mythological Bunyip of Indigenous Australian legend from the Aboriginal Art that graces the walls of these caves.
The platypus couple are no more trusting towards mankind as the rest of the animal kingdom but their advice leads our heroines to the more friendly Willie-Wagtail (Ross Higgins) and hopefully lead Dot home. It also leads to a brief encounter with some aborigines and their dingoes near the Blue Mountains, which only serves to further strengthen the bond between Dot and the red kangaroo. Of course, there is only so long that such a bond can hold without potentially upsetting the balance of Nature.
In a ground-breaking (for its time) film that will pull at the heart-strings of its audience to an extreme degree, directors Yoram and Sandra Gross go to great lengths to portray the negative impact of Mankind on Nature from around 1884 onwards, as is emphasised in the book as well as portraying animated characters within a live-action setting. Indeed, the film certainly goes some way to achieving this goal as it was successful enough to spawn eight sequels, each of which featuring young Dot learning more about what her kind have done and are still doing to the Animal kingdom and some in cases, to themselves.
Therefore, young Dot will continue to strive to get that message across to the rest of her kind whatever it takes even if it means going on more adventures or dare I say it, exposing some of the more negative aspects of Dot’s character that you will not really see as such in the earlier sequels. Good luck trying to find the time to watch the remainder of Dot’s adventures because eight sequels is a lot to get through and if you ask me, the style, quality and appeal of the animation (not to mention the plots) will gradually start to vary and not always for the better. Of course this is just my personal opinion, and as the old saying goes, ‘Each to their Own’.