A fair while ago I was in the Pinewood Studios’ vaults of StudioCanal, the French-owned media company that owns a fair few British classics and fingers in many international hit films. Running through their considerable catalog, I again noticed that the old Weintraub and Thorn-EMI libraries were now among the titles under their control, and I inquired about several films that I was very curious about. One of them was Martin Rosen’s follow up to Watership Down, the animated adaptation of another Richard Adams novel, The Plague Dogs. A film with a chequered history, the movie was released in 1982 at over 100 minutes before being truncated to around 80 minutes, in an attempt to soften it up, for limited release in the American market in 1984.
Although the fully uncut version made it to VHS via Thorn-EMI and in a sell-through edition from Warner Bros. (the one I still have) back in the day, it’s only been the heavily edited edition that has been seen since. Australia’s Big Sky Video made a valiant attempt to present the original cut from the director’s own print, but the results were unfortunately marred by the age of the element, as you may have read in my in-depth look at Rosen’s two films of Adams’ books.
However, there seems to be new hope with the details that Optimum Releasing, the UK distributors for Canal+ product, has submitted a version of the film to the British Board of Film Classification that again approaches the 100 minute running length of the full cut (allowing for the dastardly 4% alternation in the film-to-PAL format).
The BBFC website lists little more than this, but it does indeed seem that the unedited version of The Plague Dogs is headed to DVD – in the UK at least – which would mark the first time the movie has appeared on disc outside of Australia. Hopefully, the source will be the same print used as for the first tape releases, which was in pristine condition, and I know that Optimum have been cleaning up Canal’s older catalog titles for new DVD issues, so there’s a good chance of that.
Thanks to our reader Ruben for additionally writing in with the release date details and for providing a link to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk. Yep, we’ve heard rumors of an uncut Plague Dogs hitting disc before, but this time I think it could well be the real deal!
We stick around in the UK for a bright and breezy new commercial for Sky TV. I’m no fan of their yanking their channels from a rival broadcaster, meaning the lack of 24 and Lost from this particular household, but director Richard Bazley has created a fun spot that, as the press blurb accurately reads, contains inspiration “from 30s rubber hose style and backgrounds with a Miyazaki influence; a fresh and unique ad which feels like a short film in its own right”. Reflecting Sky’s new caring for the world green approach, topping this piece off – and the real reason it’s getting a mention here – is the use of Three Dog Night’s Joy To The World, one of my favorite, and highly infectious, songs. Although I’d question why the lip-sync stops after the first line, you can follow the Felix-like Cool Cat on his brightly colored, not-unlike Boundin’-styled walkabout, as he makes his way through the idyllic English countryside, courtesy of the MediaGuardian website.
Stay Tooned! – Ben