Go Behind-The-Scenes of a ‘90s Favorite in “The Making of Balto”
Most ‘90s kids grew up with the adorable animated movie Balto, which featured an outcast wolf-dog turned hero who courageously helped save the town of Nome, Alaska from a diphtheria outbreak. But as adults, we now know that kiddie movies often whitewash the real facts, and Balto is no different. In The Making Of Balto, the truth is laid bare: Balto was no wolf hybrid, but merely an Alaskan Husky who led his team along a dangerous route and was given a statue in New York City’s Central Park for his efforts. Simon Wells, who directed the movie, even admits in the documentary that he first stumbled upon Balto’s story after seeing the statue in the park.
However, while Wells admits they “simplified” the story, he also points out that the script stayed true to the heart of the tale, which was all about the heroism of the brave sled dogs. The documentary also includes interviews with a survivor of the diphtheria outbreak and sheds light on why everyone was so worried (a flu epidemic had swept through the town only a few years earlier and left 91 children orphaned, as they had no natural immunity). These chilling facts, juxtaposed with the chilling old-timey footage of a rural cemetery, brings new understanding to Nome’s terror.
Whether you love animals or simply enjoy watching documentaries on ‘90s classics, The Making of Balto is a perfect blend of Hollywood fact and the bare-boned truth.
Top image by Phil Roeder.