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Togo is an American film directed by Ericson Core and starring Willem Dafoe which debuted on Disney+ on December 20, 2019.

Premise

Togo centers on "two key figures in the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the Great Race of Mercy, in which dog-sled teams relayed to transport diphtheria antitoxin serum through harsh conditions over nearly 700 miles to save the Alaskan town of Nome from an epidemic."[1]

Plot

The film flashes between musher Leonhard Seppala raising his dog Togo and the 1925 serum run to Nome.

In 1913, Seppala and his wife Constance welcome a newborn Siberian Husky pup. While Seppala insists on immediately retiring him due to his small and weak state, Constance convinces him to raise him with the rest. The puppy Husky turns out to be a handful as he constantly escapes the kennel to usurp Seppala's dog team while he is out training them. After trying to get rid of the Husky twice, Seppala decides to have him run with the others where, to his astonishment, he discovers that he is energetic enough to outrun the other dogs. He decides to call him Togo, after admiral Tōgō Heihachirō, and fully trains him to the point where he successfully wins the All Alaska Sweepstakes, earning both Togo and himself some local fame.

In 1925, a diphtheria outbreak occurs; mostly affecting children. Mayor George Maynard plans to have the serum flown in from Nenana, but this proves to be impossible due to the severity of the weather. Eventually, Seppala is convinced to take Togo and the other dogs to collect the serum and race back. Constance becomes concerned due to Togo being 12 years old (old for dog age), but Seppala insists on going. Seppala and his team tread through stormy weather and take a break at an outpost where a local doctor named Atiqtalik tells him that Togo is tired. Seppala continues on for miles; taking a dangerous shortcut across the now frozen Norton Sound.

Eventually, Seppala meets up with a fellow musher, Henry Ivanov, who was bringing the serum back and he is able to leave the next day. Seppala and his team head across the Sound again where he is forced to have Togo pull a piece of ice that they are stuck on as the Sound begins to crack apart. Reuniting with Atiqtalik, she tells him Togo is dying. Nevertheless, Seppala gets his team back to Joe Dexter's outpost as he, Togo and team recuperate. The serum is passed off to fellow musher Gunnar Kaasen who arrives back in Nome. A reporter, confusing him for being the sole musher, announces his dog Balto as the hero who saved Nome, disappointing Constance.

Seppala returns to Nome later, where the entire town come to his house to celebrate Togo's success. Seppala later becomes upset when a cured girl named Sally deduces that Togo is dying. Seppala intends to continue training his dogs without Togo (who gained a small injury during the run), but he refuses to stop and chases down Seppala who welcomes him with open arms. Over the next two years, Togo welcomes puppies of his own that prove to be famous in their own right. Togo eventually passes away in 1929 with Seppala continuing to train dogs. A title card at the end reveals that while Balto had received a statue in his honor, Togo is remembered for making the longest run and for being the true hero of Nome.

Cast

  • Willem Dafoe as Leonhard Seppala
  • Diesel as Togo
  • Julianne Nicholson as Constance Seppala
  • Christopher Heyerdahl as Mayor George Maynard
  • Richard Dormer as Dr. Curtis Welch
  • Madeline Wickins as Sally Burdett
  • Michael Greyeyes as Amituk
  • Nive Nielsen as Atiqtalik
  • Nikolai Nikolaeff as Dan Murphy
  • Thorbjørn Harr as Charlie Olsen
  • Catherine McGregor as Sarah Foley
  • Michael McElhatton as Jafet Lindeberg
  • Paul Piaskowski as Max Adams
  • Michael Gaston as Joe Dexter
  • Shaun Benson as Gunnar Kaasen
  • Jamie McShane as Scotty Allan
  • Zahn McClarnon as Tulimak
  • Brandon Oakes as Henry Ivanoff
  • Steven McCarthy as Dev Burdett

Production

On October 28, 2015, it was announced that Walt Disney Pictures was developing a film about the 1925 serum run to Nome focusing on the sled dog Togo and his owner Leonhard Seppala. The screenplay was set to be written by Tom Flynn and the production was to be overseen by Jessica Virtue and Louie Provost for Disney.[2]

On May 16, 2018, it was announced that Ericson Core would direct the film, that Kim Zubick would serve as a producer, and that the film would debut on Disney's then-unnamed upcoming streaming service.[1] Additionally, it was further announced that Willem Dafoe would star in the film as Leonhard Seppala, the owner of Togo.[1] On December 10, 2018, it was reported that Thorbjørn Harr had joined the cast of the film.[3]

Principal photography for the film commenced on September 21, 2018 and is expected to last through February 2019 in Calgary, Canada.[4][5]

Reception

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 91% and an average rating of 7.4/10, based on 34 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads: "An endearing and exciting underdog story that benefits greatly from its stars (canine and human alike), Togo is a timeless tale, well-told." At Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 69 out of 100, based on 8 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Willem Dafoe to Star in Disney Adventure Movie 'Togo' (Exclusive)" (en). The Hollywood Reporter (July 12, 2018). Retrieved on July 14, 2018.
  2. "Disney Developing Sled Dog Movie ‘Togo and Seppala’". Variety (October 28, 2015). Retrieved on July 14, 2018.
  3. "'22 July' Actor Joins Willem Dafoe in Disney Adventure Drama 'Togo' (Exclusive)" (en). The Hollywood Reporter (December 10, 2018). Retrieved on December 10, 2018.
  4. "Exclusive: Production Start Date For Disney's Streaming Service Film 'Togo'". DSNY Newscast (July 5, 2018). Retrieved on September 24, 2018.
  5. "Extras sought for Disney's dog-sled adventure film, Togo". Calgary Herald (August 21, 2018). Retrieved on September 19, 2018.


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