A true four-legged war hero

A true four-legged war hero

Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero.

Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero.

Sgt Stubby: An Unlikely Hero
4 stars
Director: Richard Lanni
Stars: Helena Bonham Carter, Logan Lerman, Gérard Depardieu
Duration: 75 mins
Class: U
KRS Releasing Ltd

In 1917, Private First Class Robert Conroy of the 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th ‘Yankee’ Division, was undergoing training in Connecticut, the US, when he was befriended by a tenacious little stray dog who wandered into the training grounds.

The grimy little dog refused to leave Conroy’s side and was soon adopted by the young recruit and given the name Stubby because of his small stature and tiny tail.

As recorded in the history books, Stubby went on the become the most decorated dog in American history – a courageous canine, his exploits on the battlefield became notable.

Initially, he simply went beyond the call of duty as Conroy’s companion by ridding the mud-raked, rain-soaked trenches of rats. But he soon adapted his savvy to warn the soldiers of incoming raids; he could detect incoming mustard gas attacks, and oftentimes aided in the rescue of wounded soldiers – even contributing to the capture of a German spy.

At the time, working dogs were not an official part of the US Military. Yet, Stubby’s good nature and incredible instinct soon made him an invaluable member of the 102nd division. It is reported he received only one piece of formal training from Conroy and his buddies… and when their commanding officer demanded to know why there was a dog in the ranks, Stubby raised his right paw to salute, rendering the officer speechless and ensuring Stubby’s place as the official mascot.

Following his exploits, Stubby returned to a hero’s welcome by General Patton, no less, his story was splashed all over the newspapers’ front pages… and he was even feted by the US President.

It is a fascinating story that falls firmly into the ‘incredible but true’ category, and it is all recorded on the big screen in an animated adventure that has lots to offer to the small set – and to the adults accompanying them.

The movie’s vibrant animation and optimistic tone captures this heart-warming story in all its glory, and it will be a hard heart not to brim with joy as the film comes to an end. Directed by Richard Lanni, who co-wrote the story with Mike Stokey II, it comes with a detailed narration by Robert’s sister (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter).

With an economic running time of just 75 minutes, it expertly sets up the coming together of its two-legged and four-legged protagonists, before bundling them off to war where the bulk of the story is set.

The cast of delightful characters include Logan Lerman voicing Robert and his two best friends and comrades-in-arms, while a special mention must go to French infantry soldier Gaston Baptiste (voiced with typical French flair and gusto by Gérard Depardieu).

With Malta’s news of late dominated by horrendous acts towards animals, it is a good time to celebrate the achievements of a four-legged hero while giving a solid history lesson about the Great War and its inherent dangers and horrors. These are presented quite realistically, yet with a wide-eyed wonder suitable for an audience of kids.

Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon in The Spy Who Dumped Me.Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon in The Spy Who Dumped Me.

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