We advise you to leave the kids (and pets) at home for this one, as this rarely-screened masterpiece of “adult” animation is a disturbingly poignant experience you’ll not soon forget. A fascinating follow-up to 1978’s landmark Watership Down, The Plague Dogs can be bleak, but is totally absorbing in the way that any pulse-pounding, life-or-death human (or anthropomorphized) drama can be. Determined to escape the confines of an evil laboratory, two dogs make a flight for freedom into the rugged hills. When they accidentally break a vial used by plague researchers on their way out, the human world launches the deadliest hunt. Here is a world where animals are not a blank slate for our ideals and morality, but are the direct expression of the animals themselves; Humanity is the bad guy, and the audience is not left off the hook. The film’s starkness is lent a further heaviosity by top-tier British voice talents like John Hurt, Nigel Hawthorne, Judy Geeson and Patrick Stewart. With a beautifully lifelike visual style (Pixar’s Brad Bird was among the film’s animation crew), this rare 35mm presentation will leave you astounded.
Dir. Martin Rosen, 1982, 35mm, 103 min.