After seeing a press screening of “A Dog’s Purpose,” an upcoming film based on the best-selling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, I was floored by the animals’ abilities to do things that seemed impossible. Now, it’s a little easier to understand why.
In a video obtained by TMZ and posted on Wednesday, a crew member or trainer for the film is seen forcing a German Shepherd to perform a “stunt” that seems extremely unsafe ― so much so as to call into question how animals were handled over the entire course of the film’s shooting.
In the final version of the movie, the police dog appears to bravely rescue a young girl after she falls into a rushing river. But in the behind-the-scenes clip ― which was shot outside of Winnipeg, Canada, in November 2015 ― a trainer is seen pushing the scared German Shepherd into a rough pool of water as he tries to claw his way out. After much resistance, the dog eventually gets into the water, but ends up being submerged for so long that handlers yelled, “Cut it!”
Interesting. I thought this movie looked kind of cheesy and saccharine, but now I know for a fact I’m not going to support it.
Using live animals in film always carries risk of not only abuse to the animals, but injuries to the handlers. I absolutely love practical effects, but in this day and age it’s absolutely unacceptable to be using a live animal for this kind of scene. The CGI animals in The Jungle Book and Life of Pi (one of which is several years old now) were amazing, and in a scene like this movement and camera angles could easily be used to obscure the fact that the animal is CG.
The year is 2017, we’re able to create CGI that looks nearly identical to the real thing, and camera and editing tricks can cover them up incredibly easily. It’s absolutely unacceptable to treat animals in film like this. I can hear some people saying “but CGI is expensive,” but does that really justify this? What other things could they have done while not being recorded?