The Delicacy of the Opposite
Plainview - wrote on 08/04/10
How fragile a relationship can be when between polar opposites. Co-existing is one thing, but building a bond and securing a friendship is another. What's key here though isn't the status in which the would-be rivals meet nor form the bond, but rather the nature in which it was formed in the first place. Innocent and unknowing can be used to describe it, as can young and foolish. It refutes the popular misconception that what isn't known isn't harmful. It presents the idea that it's exactly the opposite. And what better way to do it then with a children's movie.
The Fox and the Hound tells the story of two young, talking animals, a fox and, you guessed it, a hound, that become friends despite their natural instinct to be enemies. Being young and not very wise, the two are oblivious to the fact that they are destined to be rivals and that their roles as enemies are supposed to be set in stone. They laugh and play and promise to each other that they will remain "friends forever." But as they grow older they inevitably learn that the people closest to them have other things in mind. And so begins the lengthy process of renewing and maintaining their friendship that shouldn't be, and overcoming the decisions and paths that have been laid out before them. Except that never happens and they end up accepting reality for what it is and keeping only their memories and experiences to bring forward at the start of a new life.
Now I've read plenty of arguments on the internet by parents who suggest that this movie is "unsuitable for children" because of its "underlying messages and themes about the inability to maintain friendships and relationships" and all of that misinterpreted nonsense that these parents love to bicker about. To start off, the movie is about the bond between two animals who don't know that they are supposed to be enemies. Please explain who your child is supposed to hate who is also their friend. The unique condition in which the two animals ended their friendship is only dramatic because of the unique condition in which they became friends in the first place. Also, if any parent truly believes that a friendship is likely to last forever, they need to start questioning their sanity, and/or get their head checked. Parents who say these kinds of things need to realize that The Fox and the Hound is primarily a movie made for a child audience. It's primarily meant to demonstrate that a friendship is like a particularly special ornament that can easily fall and be broken. I will even go as far to say that the sooner a child realizes this, the sooner they can learn to value what it means to be friends with somebody. The fragility is what makes it so meaningful, and so pure.
What really completes this movie for me, and what makes it so heartwarming, is the ending, when both the fox and the hound decide to part separate ways to live new lives. The ending scene is particularly dramatic and tear-jerking because of that fact that it's the epitome of acceptance, and it reflects a modern day society that gives us our role in the play. Society tells us to do this, do that, be this way, be that way, and we accept. We accept because it's the only way in which there's the extreme likelihood of survival. Sure, you can try to go against the grain, but to take that risk when the odds are against you can be considered nothing more than a waste of time. But that isn't necessarily true. Can it be worthwhile?
Think of it this way: In the ending moments of the movie, when the hound is resting outside of his house, and the fox watches over it, the old times of when they first met each other and how they vowed to remain friends forever is heard as the hound smiles and falls asleep, remembering how it all began and then how it ended. Having watched this movie at least 4 times, this scene always makes me tearful, but the most recent time that I watched it stood out among the others, save for the first when I was a child. As I sat there with tears in my eyes and a feeling of overall sadness, I couldn't help but wonder: Did good triumph over evil? Did the better impulse of the two friends overcome their instinct that was pre-determined? I felt at the time that because of these final moments, with the reason for moving on and the process in doing so, that society had won. But by re-examining these moments, and by reconsidering what their friendship meant, I realized that their time was not wasted. They went against the grain and walked back with memories and experience that couldn't be matched by not doing so in the first place. Now I'd argue that good did indeed triumph over evil. But this isn't definite. Remember that their bond first began when they were young, and when they were unwise. They didn't know of any future consequence. They simply chose to be friends and didn't think of anything else.
What pair would say are more closely related, up and down, or up and right? Maybe the more obvious answer is the former, but reconsider when you remember that they are in fact opposites, meaning they are on separate ends of the spectrum and that they are as far as possible from each other. If you immediately chose the latter, you're probably going for a more literal approach as to which would be literally closer to the other, and that really isn't the purpose for asking this question. The frailty that comes with the question exists solely because the idea of being opposites is like the idea of being enemies. You're either out to get each other or you're so different you'd rather ignore each other. That's where the significance of The Fox and the Hound comes to play, the idea that a friendship is only fragile because it's like a loose relationship, a bond only secured by the people in which it withholds. Therefore, the delicacy of friendship is similar to the delicacy of the opposite. And when both combine it really can make for a touching experience, and in this case, a touching movie.
And all this from an animated film with animals who talk and sing.