Near the port of Dampier, Western Australia, there is a statue in memory of Red Dog. The Australian Kelpie dog in question is a canine of character: he hitchhiked to the town with a couple that were setting up a local tavern in the area and proceeded to befriend the lonely miners that inhabited the region. Red Dog built up a reputation as a 'common dog' - owned by the whole community, and was regarded as the town's symbol.
Red Dog is based on the Louis de Bernières novel of the same name, which outlines the life of this Australian canine legend as he finds his home in Dampier, finally meets his true master, and becomes the third point in a love triangle between his master and his master's girlfriend. However, the dog's life is thrown into turmoil when a shocking accident occurs.
The tale is based on an Australian legend and forms part of Australia's modern mythology – as a result it holds a special place in the country's mindset. The film has stormed the Australian box office and will no doubt make good money on its travels; since opening in Australia in August 2011, Red Dog has amassed over AUS $21m.
The plot is simple and follows the dog's life as he builds bonds with his human friends, such strong bonds that he becomes viewed as nearly human himself.
Red Dog follows in the tradition of movies that anthropomorphise animals as wise souls that enlighten others and lead by example. It is a device well-frequented in film history, with Babe, White Fang and Lassie being appropriate examples.
The film touches on interesting issues such as the lives of manual workers in the Western Territory and emigration in the hope of financial reward. But at its heart Red Dog is a tale of the rapport often shared between man and beast, with a love story thrown in for good measure.
It's not quite saccharine, but certainly is sugar-coated. Those who can't stand uplifting family movies stay far, far away.
For those who like simple tearjerkers, and for children who are animal mad; however, this will tick all the right boxes.