This Japanese film became a classic for American and Canadian children (among others) of the 1990s after being re-edited and released by Columbia. With the superb narration of Dudley Moore, ambiguous outdoor settings, and complete lack of any human cast, many North American kids never suspected The Adventures of Milo and Otis wasn’t filmed in their own backyards.
It was, in fact, filmed over four years, using 400,000 feet of film, in Japan with a vast animal cast, including the stars: a “curious cat and a pug-nosed pup.” The original Japanese release was an art film about a cat named Chatran—and not intended for children. But Otis the Pug gets plenty of screen-time in the reworked and shortened English language release.
A flurry of concern arose over the treatment of the animals in Milo and Otis (both in Japan and the U.S.) when it hit theaters. The debate continues today with reliable sources difficult to come by. At worst, the crew was accused of killing many animals involved in the filming, including ten different cats playing Milo. At best, the animals were carefully trained and cared for, but suffered stress at the very least. One can see just by watching the extremely edited U.S. version some traumatic moments, particularly for the cat. That cat was not carefully and lovingly trained to leap off a cliff into the ocean. He was thrown.
A stunning, beautiful, unique film, cherished by a generation, which, sadly, for the sake of its stars, should never have been made.
Produced by Fuji Television Network