Benji the Hunted | Revolvy
In Oregon, Benji has gone missing while filming a movie on location. Benji tries to comfort the dying animal, but the hunter chases him. SISKEL: This is the show where you give "Benji the Hunted" a positive "Life Itself" ended up being the title of Roger Ebert's memoir, and it's the title, . How did it change the dynamics of your relationship when you could no. This is quite an old film but it was OK I gave it a 5 out of The dog was cute to. Also liked Benji the hunted more though like the user below I gave that a 6 out of .
They went on their show, and they said that. They said, you know, you can only see this film at Sundance. But we really think this film deserves a kind of much larger audience, and we hope it gets distribution. And the review happened while the Festival was underway.
And, you know, going into the festival - you know, we had sent the film. Once we got into Sundance, we thought, well, you know, it's a three-hour documentary. Let's send it to distributors and see if they are interested. Well, we didn't hear a peep from a single distributor.Benji: The Hunted (1987) - Ending/Credits
In fact, when it arrived in their offices, it came on two VHS cassettes. So I imagine it just got put on a pile and never even looked at.
Well, once that review appeared during the festival, distributors were falling all over themselves to get tickets to our next screening. And it really was the beginning of that film's life professionally and getting out into the world.
We - you know, in a matter of days, we had four distributors who were interested in the film. We eventually sold it to a distributor. It went out into the world. They went out, and they championed and banged the drum for this film every chance they got. I want to read an excerpt of Roger Ebert's review of your first film, "Hoop Dreams.
It takes us, shakes us and makes us think in new ways about the world around us. It gives us the impression of having touched life itself. Did you realize when you were making this film - did you remember that he had used the expression life itself in his review? I did not - not when I got into it underway. But at some point in the midst of working on the film, I went back and looked at Roger's review, and I saw that. Of course, I didn't think that that's the reason he named his book "Life Itself" But I - laughing - but I was struck by that coincidence and kind of touched by it, really.
And in fact, the title of his memoir, "Life Itself," came from Studs Terkel - a letter that Studs Terkel wrote to Roger when Roger first got out of the hospital. I think between, Roger was in the hospital for almost a year.
And when he got out of the hospital, and he started writing again and writing reviews, Studs wrote to Roger saying, your writing has never been more beautiful, more profound - about movies, about race, about politics and about life itself. That may not be an exact quote, but it's a paraphrase. And Roger just loved that letter that Studs wrote to him and decided to name his memoir "Life Itself.
Steve, you expected to make a movie about Roger Ebert, a living person. But he went back to the hospital shortly after you started to meet about making a movie, and he died four months later.
So the movie ends up being about his death, as well as his life. And I'm wondering how your whole idea of what this movie was going to be changed when you found out that his cancer had come back and that things weren't looking good?
I mean, you're right. When we started, I had this idea, and really I - you know, I took the idea from his memoir because I think one of beautiful things about Roger's memoir is that he's writing about his life from the vantage point of where he is in his life now, when he wrote it, which is he's been through all these cancers. He's lost his ability to speak and eat. And he's looking back on this incredible life he's had and conjuring up the memories of it.
And I love the way that was done in the memoir, and so I wanted to do a similar thing in the film. And so I wanted to follow him in the present - his life with Chaz, going to screenings. They would throw dinner parties, and even though Roger couldn't - could no longer speak at those parties, he still sat at the head of the table and sort of presided over them.
And I wanted to capture all of that. I wanted to basically show that here's a guy who has been through hell numerous times, and yet, he has not let it slow him down.
He's writing more than ever. He's going to screenings. He's going to festivals.
He's living his life. And then, I wanted to use that life in the present as a springboard to the past. And in a sense, that is what the film is that we made, but with one important difference, like you are talking about, which is that we weren't able to capture all of those things in the present that I wanted. We ended up capturing, in the present, Roger struggling with, first, a fractured hip that then turns out to be cancer and all of the complications from that that eventually lead to his passing.
If you're just joining us, my guests are Chaz Ebert, who was married to film critic Roger Ebert for 21 years, and Steve James, who just made a new documentary about Roger Ebert called "Life Itself. It was made during the last month of Roger Ebert's life, and it's just been released. Let's take a short break here, then we'll talk some more. If you're just joining us, we're talking about the new documentary "Life Itself," which is about the late film critic Roger Ebert.
And with me are Steve James, who made the documentary. He also made "Hoop Dreams" and "The Interrupters. And she is keeping his legacy going with, among other things, a website that is filled with movie reviews. Chaz, by the time the film got rolling, he was physically compromised because of the surgeries.
Benji the Hunted
And because of what happened to his jaw. And I think when you love someone and they're physically compromised and when they've been in and out of the hospital, your impulse is to protect them. But in a documentary film, what happens is that you expose them. And so I'm wondering if you had these conflicting feelings during the documentary of wanting to kind of just protect him from any kind of, you know, scrutiny or anything, but also wanting to, you know, put him in the spotlight - you know, help him be in the spotlight, knowing that would also expose things that were maybe unflattering, as well as things that were flattering.
Yes, that's a fair question, and of course I wanted to protect him. But Roger was fearless, and so as his partner in life, you know, if he wanted to be transparent, it was not up to me to say, no, don't do this. There is one part of the movie that was difficult for me, the part where they're doing a medical procedure, clearing his airways.
And that is not anything I wanted on camera because I know how involved it is. I know how difficult it is to watch. You know, and I know that it's something that audiences would turn away from. Roger, though, knew it was important because it's something that happened several times a day in his life that was part of his new normal. And so he arranged with Steve to come over and shoot that when I was out of town because he knew that I wouldn't want that shown on film.
You know I found - that happens really at the beginning of the film. And I think - oh, I'll just say something personal here, you know, I had watched Roger Ebert on television for years, starting when their show was first carried on PBS and then through the years when it was syndicated and so on. And so I feel like, you know, I watched him get older on TV, and then I was - like so many of the people who followed him, I was stunned after the jaw surgery to see how his face was transfigured by the surgery and, you know, how unusual his jaw looked afterwards.
Benji () - IMDb
And it was just, you know, like you want - in a way you wanted to turn away, and in a way you wanted to look. And it was it was just so strange to see somebody whose face was so familiar, transformed like that.
And I was wondering how that would be dealt with in the movie. And how it's dealt with is, like, you want to know about this, I'm going to show you early on.
And the camera is nearly inside Roger's mouth during one shot. And then it kind of pulls back, and then soon we see this suctioning that you described, in which I'm not sure of exactly why it's done or what it's done, but he has the equivalent of like a tracheotomy in his neck and a tube Yes and it keeps - that was to clear his airways to keep any accumulations from going into his lungs.
And he looks uncomfortable when they do it. I don't mean uncomfortable that he's on camera, I mean it looks very physically uncomfortable. You see him wincing. But, Steve, I'm going to ask you here how you felt about filming almost, like inside his throat and then pulling back and showing this procedure which Chaz was wishing that you hadn't even shown and just, like, knowing that people were kind of, like, probably strangely curious about that. Well, you know, I had of course met with Chaz and Roger before we began filming, and the first time I met with them - it was the first time I had ever seen Roger not in the public-Roger way, of where he would go out and he would wear a black turtleneck.
And, you know, when I would see him out publicly, I just thought he was quite stylish. When I met with him privately, I realized because he was wearing the white bandage, not the black turtleneck, is that that was also quite functional, as it prevented you from clearly seeing through his jaw to his neck. But even in the meetings, I was sort of struck by it. But when I went in that very first day to film, and Chaz wasn't there, Roger was asleep.
And it's the first image that we show of him in the present, in the film. He was asleep, and there's something about anyone who's asleep; you're very vulnerable. And in his case, there was that vulnerability of being asleep, but it was also his jaw then, because of that, hung way, way down.
And I remember very distinctly thinking, oh, my God, what are we going to do about this?
Benji [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]: hidden-facts.info: DVD & Blu-ray
In a way, I knew that people would watch this movie if we film it the way it is and have the same reaction I was having right there and then. So then what happened was he woke up, and you see this moment in the film. He wakes up, and he looks up at me - as I happened to be shooting this myself then - he looks up at me, and he smiles. Suddenly he was Roger, the Roger I knew. I was relieved and encouraged by that, and so then when we filmed the suction, which I did know that Chaz didn't want, I knew that and when I filmed it I realized fully why.
I mean, it was very unsettling, and I felt intrusive. And I think what happened is, is that Roger saw that look on my face when it was over, when, you know, I put the camera down.
And I think he saw that I was feeling guilty about having filmed it, which is, I think, why he sent me this email that I got when I got home and, you know, we included in the film, where the email title of it was, great stuff exclamation, exclamation, exclamation.
And then the body of it is, he says something like, you know, I'm so glad we got something today nobody sees - suction. I can't tell you what a relief it was to me to read that email. I mean, it exonerated me in a way but I think - but I - what it really was saying is that for all of Roger's courageous public embracing of what he'd gone through, that he was ready for a different level of candor in this film, that the public had not seen and that he felt was important.
And he knew that I thought it was important, too. So I think going forward, my hope was - is that if we can very quickly early on in the film sort of show you what it is and not hold it back, that my hope is, is that as the movie progresses, that you will become acclimated enough to the reality of his life so that you're seeing past it and seeing Roger and not seeing the hole in his jaw.
And I thought it was important to leave it in there. I never asked Steve to remove it, even though it wasn't something I agreed with initially because this new level of candor allowed us to see Ground Zero of the body human, what happens when you're really stripped bare.
Yeah, and I think what you're both saying, I think that really comes across in the film. And I see what you're saying, like, once you show it, once you show his jaw, then, like, as a viewer, you just move one.
It's like, yeah, OK, I get it now, move on, you know, tell me more about Roger. And, Chaz, I felt watching it that Roger Ebert expected a level of candor from the documentaries he watched. He wouldn't have liked it if it wasn't honest. And I just reassured knowing that he was willing to reveal as much in the movie about him as he would've wanted revealed in a movie about somebody else. So - and Roger expected that kind of honesty and transparency in movies that he saw.
As you point out, you know, Roger Ebert loved to eat. He was a very gifted speaker, which is why he had such a long career on television and as a public speaker and of course as a writer. How did it change the dynamics of your relationship when you could no longer eat together and when you could no longer actually have a conversation?
I know he was able to speak through an electronic device, like a voice synthesizer device. Benji the Hunted Save Benji the Hunted is a children's drama film about a dog trying to survive in the wilderness. It was released by Walt Disney Pictures. This was the last Benji movie to star Benjean, daughter of Higginsin the title role. Plot In OregonBenji has gone missing while filming a movie on location. Inn fears Benji is dead, but the movie producers plan to search the wilderness coastline with a helicopter.
The next day, Benji lies in the brush near the shoreline when the helicopter flies overhead, but he goes unnoticed. Benji wanders through the woods and comes across a female cougar perched atop a boulder. Just then, a hunter shoots the cougar. Benji tries to comfort the dying animal, but the hunter chases him away and carries the dead cougar away.
When the helicopter flies overhead again, Benji runs after it, barking to no avail. Benji subsequently encounters four orphaned cougar cubs, belonging to the killed cougar, and he attempts to shield them from predation. While hunting, Benji comes face to face with a rabbit, but licks it twice, and leaves.
Benji finds a cabin where a quail is being cooked over an open fire. When the hunter takes the cooked bird inside, Benji spies two additional dead quails hanging on a line nearby.
He grabs one of the birds and drags its body back to the den for the cubs. The next day, a fawn runs by and two ferrets play in a nearby creek while Benji collects rocks to make the den higher so the cubs cannot get out. Benji returns to the cabin to get the other dead quail, but the hunter catches him and ties him up. Reading Benji's collar, the hunter remembers there is a reward for the dog's rescue. When the hunter goes inside, Benji tugs at the rope, trying to break free.
Just then, a black timber wolf growls at Benji.
Benji the Hunted- 2nd Wolf Chase
When the hunter comes outside, the wolf runs away. However, the wolf appears again and chases Benji. They run a long distance over the mountain until Benji leads the wolf to the bear in order to get rid of him.
Later, the cougar drinks from the stream when one of the cubs approaches. Just then, the helicopter flies overhead, scaring the cougar and her cub away. When Benji spots the cougar again, he barks at the cubs to follow him across the stream. The helicopter lands nearby and Frank Inn gets out, calling for Benji. The dog looks between his master and the cubs playing and decides that he should help the cubs before he could reunite with his owner.
Unaware Benji is nearby, Inn gets back into the helicopter and flies away. Later, an eagle swoops down, grabs one of the cubs in its talons and flies off. When the eagle later flies near the three remaining cubs, Benji barks to scare it away in time.
Benji spots the cougar and her cub following closely behind her. Benji barks at her repeatedly until she gives chase, but Benji loses her along the way. Although Benji almost falls into the deep ravine, he climbs to safety. From the top of the cliff, Benji sees the cubs below. Benji finds the cougar near the waterfall.
Benji runs to get the cubs, but finds the wolf watching the cubs. Benji barks at the wolf, then bites at him. The cubs hide under a rock where the wolf cannot reach them.
As the wolf gives chase, Benji tricks the wolf by hiding in the bushes that shields the cliff behind it and sends the wolf falling off the cliff to his death. Benji lures the cubs to come out from under the rock and carries one of the cubs up the side of the steep mountain in his mouth. At the top, Benji leaves the first cub, then goes back down the cliff to get the others.