Experience the connection with man’s best friend in “Arthur the King”

Published 11:10 am Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

This week at the Tryon Theatre we have “Arthur the King” (Jones), an uplifting and inspiring story of the innate bond between man and his proverbial best friend.This film is an adaptation of a 2016 memoir: Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home, in which an Swedish adventure racing team made an unplanned and unbreakable connection with a stray dog, who became the team’s unofficial fifth member. This team’s leader, Mikael Lindnord, is the one who made the primary bond with the eponymous dog, and wrote the subsequent memoir in joint effort with Val Hudson.

The film’s narrative follows a similar adventure team (American in this adaptation) as they compete in an arduous race across 435 miles of the Dominican Republic’s varied terrain. The film’s protagonist is found in Michael Light, the team’s captain, a veteran competitor pushing himself to perform, despite his body and his family arguing otherwise. Michael’s stubborn willfulness and opposition to outside opinions has found himself at odds with his passionate drive, and with his fellow teammates. The outset of their mission is beset with arguing and personality driven conflict, insecurities flaring. Soon after Michael makes an unadvised choice to feed a stray dog that happens by their camp. This small act of generosity endears this lonely dog to the team, shortly proving himself an invaluable and necessary part of their success and survival. 

As a film directly adapted from first hand accounts of actual events, “Arthur the King” is indebted to the portrayal of reality. The greatest appeal to reality is achieved through the film’s cinematography. Much of the film is shot with a handheld camera, featuring tight closeups and free movement aplenty. This cameawork is not chaotic, but has a certain freneticism to its movement that effectively mirrors the jostling and energetic movement of the film’s subjects, human and canine alike. Moreover, the dialogue and acting are kept to a relatively grounded level, compelling the narrative without sensationalizing its emotive beats. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

In terms of tone, “Arthur the King” treads similar territory to many based-on-a-true-story sports films. It has plenty of narrative conflict, but ultimately trades in positivity and validation, more so than their alternatives. The content is absolutely family friendly, featuring some choice language, but otherwise engendering tension through physical hardship and athletic obstacles, rather than violence or interpersonal duplicity. However, the emotional threads of the film are more mature in their resonance. Michael, as the protagonist, is finding himself forced to reckon with age, and with a legacy of performance that has left him feeling dissatisfied and unmoored. While this is a film that celebrates achievement, it also questions the definition of achievement, both personal and shared. As with any emotion that is born of time and retrospection, we expect Michael’s arc to connect the most with our adult cinemagoers. 

We are positive that “Arthur the King” will provide a reliably rewarding experience for most any film goer, irrespective of generation. Additionally, our community does love dogs, and any film that celebrates their unique brand of loyalty and personality is bound to hit home. We hope to see you soon!