Legend of Strange World: A dog who breaks boundaries

Lulu is a bernedoodle, owned by Moss Duvall, who is part of the Robinson's Rescue 2022 Best in Sheaux homecoming court.Ee8
Lulu is a bernedoodle, owned by Moss Duvall, who is part of the Robinson's Rescue 2022 Best in Sheaux homecoming court.Ee8 /

Disney’s Strange World (2022), an animated, sci-fi adventure movie, opens up with a crew led by Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) and the daring Clade family and dispatched by the town of Avalonia, which is encircled by mountains, climbing in snowy, treacherous peaks. After being saved by his father during a fall, the younger Clade, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), discovers green, glowing, galvanic plants in the snow, and this interests the rest of the team except his father, Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), who discounts this, and says that it is only important to get through the mountains and then continues on without them and disappears.

After fast-forwarding 25 years, we see that Searcher runs Clade Farms, where his crops consist of the power-generating plant, Pando, and he has his own family, including his wife, Meridian (Gabrielle Union), a pilot, and his son, Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White), and their dog, Legend. We are introduced to Legend as he bounds down the staircase after Ethan and whiffs the avocado and egg on toast that his bestie is eating. As Searcher and Ethan are picking and packing the Pando pods, Legend momentarily picks up Pando pods like tiny tennis balls that give mild, harmless shocks, and the audience fully realizes that he is a three-legged pooch.

Because Pando is not holding its charge as long, Callisto, who now presides over Avalonia, enlists the aid of Searcher to join her crew aboard the flying vessel Venture which must follow the roots down a huge hole to get to the bottom of their power problem. During a rough descent, Meridian follows in her crop-dusting plane to try to retrieve Ethan and Legend who are stowaways, and, after they are dive-bombed by pterodactyl-like birds, they all broach a border into an underground universe that is filled with foreign fauna and flora. They all must explore and find a way back from this strange world.

How did Legend’s presence in Strange World come about?

According to an article by film critic Ashley Saunders, the inclusion of Legend was not guaranteed from the start and evolved. Saunders explains that it was the brainchild of a longtime member of Disney’s story department, Burny Mattinson, who did not give up on his suggestion to director Don Hall that a dog would make the movie better. Because of the existence of newer creatures like Splat, Hall did not see it that way, but his resistance thawed. The chief of the story team penned Legend as being sans one limb, and this vision took hold, the piece further declares.

Legend’s breed was also divulged by the same article while interviewing Roy Conli, one of the film’s producers; Conli refers to him as a Bernedoodle, a shortened name for a Bernese-Doodle. So, he is a hybrid of the Bernese Mountain Dog and the Poodle. As told by the AKC, the Bernese Mountain Dog gets its name from Bern, the capital of Switzerland and an agrarian district with thousands of farms. One of the four Swiss mountain-dog breeds, it is the one known for a longish, smooth coat with black, white, and orange-brown colors. Aside from a good-natured temperament and getting along great with children and other animals, it was historically used to drive livestock over lengthy distances, guard farms, and pull carts and sleds. Poodlesaccording to the AKC, are noted for high intellect and their ability to swim and retrieve; their coat of curls serve a practical purpose as an added barrier to reduce the impact of the elements.

Why is Legend’s name important?

The origin of the character’s name was also revealed by Saunders in her talk with Hall about Strange World who said it was to honor Mattinson, who is considered a kind of legend in the entertainment company. According to the Internet Movie Database website, Mattinson started with Disney when he was 18 years old and is their longest-serving employee. There are other relevant reasons for his name though. Jaeger Clade, with his former wife and son in tow, was renowned for going on perilous journeys, braving hazardous places such as jungles, rapids, and volcanic regions, in his quest to find a way to pass through the mountain walls. Searcher also became a local legend for his botanical contributions. The word legend also is defined as an explanation of what the symbols mean on a chart or map, and one of the first scenes mentions that cartography is one of the subjects that expedition members must study.

Mattison’s instincts were correct about Strange World. The presence of Legend enhances the movie. He is Ethan’s constant companion. This helps contrast the childhoods of Searcher and Ethan. Although Searcher accompanies his father on trips, he is subjected to many dangers, and his passion for plants is discouraged. Thus far, Ethan has lived a life of relative safety, has his own set of friends and has some freedom to make choices, and has Legend as a lovable buddy. He lends humor and a sense of curiosity and wonder to interacting with the landscape which is partially Dr. Seuss-like but with a possibility of foreboding at times. Legend shows that beings with disabilities contribute to their families and communities, and should be appreciated and loved just like everybody else.

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