Balto (1995)

Description: A half-wolf, half-husky named Balto gets a chance to become a hero when an outbreak of diphtheria threatens the children of Nome, Alaska in the winter of 1925. He leads a dog team on a 600-mile trip across the Alaskan wilderness to get medical supplies. The film is based on a true story which inspired the Iditarod dog sled race.
Director: Simon Wells
Writers: Cliff Ruby (screenplay), Elana Lesser (screenplay)
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Bob Hoskins, Bridget Fonda



The real hero of the 1925 serum run was Togo. The twelve-year-old husky led his sled dog team through 260 miles of blowing Alaskan blizzard to deliver emergency diphtheria serum to Nome. Balto received most of the fame, because he led the final 55 miles. Togo now has his own film, starring Willem Dafoe.

After the serum run, Gunnar Kasaan, the musher, sold Balto on a nationwide tour. Afterward, the real Balto and his team were sold to a movie producer named Sol Lesser, who made a movie called Balto’s Race to Nome (1925), eulogizing Balto. After that, the team was sold again and put on exhibit as a kind of curiosity show. The dogs were abused, neglected, and forgotten, until a Cleveland businessman named George Kimbal, with the help of Cleveland school children, bought the six remaining dogs for the then astounding sum of two thousand dollars, which they raised in two weeks. The dogs were brought to the Cleveland Zoo, and lived out their lives in peace. When Balto died in 1933, he was stuffed, and put on display in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Kasaan staggered into Nome at 5:30 A.M. on February 2, 1925. His dogs were cold and exhausted, their feet torn and bloody. But the serum was delivered. Kasaan handed it to the only physician in Nome, Dr. Curtis Welch of the Public Health Service, and then he began to pull the ice splinters out of his dogs’ feet.

There are many differences between the movie and what really happened, such as: *The sled run to get the medicine was actually a relay, and Balto was only the leader of the last team to carry the medicine to Nome. The longest and most hazardous distance was traveled by the team led by Togo. *This film portrays Balto as a wolf hybrid. Balto was actually a purebred Siberian Husky. *Balto was never an outcast as shown by the film, but was instead born in a kennel owned by the famous musher Leonhard Seppala, where he grew up until he was deemed fit for pulling a sled, Seppala was also the owner of Togo, whom he personally used during the relay, Balto was instead used by one of his workers, Gunnar Kasaan. *The real Balto was neutered by Seppala when he was only a few months old, meaning the puppies he has in the sequels never came to be.

Jenna’s character design was based on Audrey Hepburn.

Balto’s two-tone gray fur colors and pattern were based on Tramp from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp (1955). However in real life his fur was black.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Readings