Thursday, October 12, 2006

Endurance, Fidelity and Intelligence

Three words that describe history's best husky ever - Balto. And the story goes thus;

Born in 1923 in the small town of Nome, in Alaska, Balto spent the first two years of his existence to carry food for the minors. He was considered as a dog rather slow and very little suited for this work.
At the beginning of 1925, diphtheria, a fatal disease which attacks largely children, developed in the village edging Nome. A large quantity of Serum was required in urgency in all the hospitals in the neighbourhood. By telegram, the authorities learned that there was some remaining in the town of Anchorage, at more than 1000 miles from Nome.

But they were faced with a problem of transporting the cargo until Nome, the affected area.

The blizzard which blew in violent gusts prevented the use of any mode of air transport.

It was then decided that a train be used to transport the serum to Nenana which was the nearest known inhabitation.

However, Nenana being more than a thousand kilometers from Nome devoid of any means of transport link, it made only one solution look viable to the inhabitants: to make the way in sledge thanks to an attachment drawn by dogs.
Thus crews take the departure and face the excruciating cold, wind and snow.
Many gave up on route: not easy indeed to find roads in the middle of white, treacherous landscapes!

The group which arrived at Nenana was led by Gunnar Kassen, whose team of huskys was directed by... Balto.

However, on the way back, the man, paralysed by the extremely low temperatures and severe windchill, was unable to continue to guide the crew.
Whereas Gunnar Kassen lost any hope to save the children of Nome, Balto, who remembered the way, started to lead the sledge, and brought back at full speed its team, as well as the invaluable loading, to come safe into port.

Dazzled by such a miracle, the press seizes the story and makes Balto the new hero of the nation. The story appeared on the covers of newspapers all around the world, and at the end of the year, a statue, carved by F.G. Roth, was set up in Central Park, with these words:
"Endurance - Fidelity - Intelligence"
The route crossed by the husky gives place to an annual race of sledge which continued until 1973. A newer version of the race was started during the next season and continues to this day commemorating the spirit of the Husky and his magnificiently unparalleled contribution in helping save human lives.
The race is known as the Ideterod and is aimed to test the limits of human and husky endurance.
And today the name of Balto, and its incredible history, remain still quite present, in the memory of young and old..........
Director Simon Wells made the animated movie Balto which came to being in the year 1995.
A wonderful work of animation that it is, it boasts an amazing voice cast that includes those of Kevin Bacon (Balto), Bridget Fonda (Jenna), Phil Collins (Muk & Luk) among others.
Brendan Fraser was initially hired to provide the voice of Steele (the bad dog). Although he did his part his voice-over was subsequently discarded paving way for Jim Cummings to speak for Steele.
The 74 min flick has some amazing work of animated art combined with excellent scores straight from the stables of John Williams and an impressive tagline which reads "His story became a legend. His adventure is one you'll never forget"

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