Headscratchers / Balto

  • How come a city in the Arctic has only two non-white (i.e. native american) background characters? And how come wolves appropriate native american spirituality?

  • What was with Duke in the third film? He acted like he liked the sled dogs and Balto but was trying to put them out of the job. I get the point was he wasn't a straight up villain but his MO clashes so strongly with his personality that his character is far too conflicted. He doesn't fit the role he was put in due to his personality.
    • His MO wasn't "putting the dogs out of their jobs" so much as hoping to introduce a faster, more reasonably convenient means of delivery service to and from Nome. Empathy and competition are not mutually exclusive. It's not like the man had any idea that the concept of "career pride" exists within the animal community.
  • Why on earth didn't the townspeople react more strongly when Muk and Luk came running through the town? The one instance that shows any reaction to them is one man scooting out of the way. Yet, in the next sequence, the humans are shown to be standing within five feet of them, and the bears in question are "mauling"( from the point of view of the townsfolk) one of the local dogs. The humans are standing calmly as Muk and Luk interacts with Balto, despite the fact that two grown polar bears are in their town.
    • It can be assumed by the fact the humans know a good bit about Balto, maybe they knew they were his friends? Since Balto is clearly well known in town, it's possible they'd seen Balto hanging out and being friendly with them. Or just that the two of them were living on the outskirts of town for a long time and everyone was used to them. It happens in real life.
    • Or simply Rule of Funny.
  • How did the townspeople trust Balto so quickly? At first they're terrified of him and hate him, but as soon as he brings the medicine back, they're running up to him and petting him like he was just a regular dog. Just cause he did something heroic doesn't automatically make him non-dangerous. He's part wolf for crying out loud!
    • That's...probably why they liked him. He brought them the medicine they needed. When he didn't start snapping at them when they approached him, they assumed he was all right.
      • Well, why did they run up to him in the first place? Like I said before, just cause he did something heroic doesn't mean he's not dangerous. Imagine if Balto were a huge man-eating tiger instead of a wolf-dog.
      • They ran up to him because the medicine was attached to him, clearly. Also, he didn't just do something heroic, he did something heroic and doglike. Namely, running a full trek at the head of a team of sled dogs, without tearing any of them apart or eating the unconcious driver. I imagine that was enough for the townspeople, if at that point they were thinking that deeply about it at all.
    • The people accepted Balto because he had led the team. The whole reason people hated him was because they thought he was wild and dangerous. Then, he proves himself capable of finding and rescuing a team of sled-dogs and their injured musher who could not command the team himself, showing Balto's intelligence and leadership skills. Just that he had proven to be able to play nice with domestic dogs is reason to at least be a little less warry, no?
    • There are 2 instances prior where humans attempted to show trust to Balto; the first being towards the start of the movie with Rosy wanting to harness him into her sled and the second was by Steele's owner after the race to see how Balto may be used for the medicine run. The former was a child and was pulled away by her parents and rightfully so, the later changed his mind due to Steele inducing a growl from Balto. By the time the end of the movie comes around, Steele no longer could manipulate the situation against Balto /and/ everyone is just grateful for what Balto did. It also seems vaguely implied that Balto did small things (Rosy's hat) just nothing big that would garner as much trust as bringing the medicine. Humans... we are fickle creatures.
  • What becomes of Steele after the events of the first film? He was never seen or mentioned in the sequels?
    • He might have gotten sold to a musher in a different town if none of the other dogs are willing to work with him. If he's considered a bit too old to sell, Steele might have gotten an early retirement for the same reason. In that case he'd probably be off by himself sulking or hanging out with anyone willing to tolerate him in the years following his fall from grace.
  • How come the Polar Bears couldn't talk to the Brown/Black Bear? I know the one didn't really talk at all, but the other one could. Why didn't they try to talk to him? Or how come the other Bear couldn't talk at all when most of the other Animals could?
    • Maybe the sight of the giant bear roaring and proceeding to maul them made them too frightened to consider that option. And if they tried to, it probably wouldn't have made a difference; that bear probably wouldn't have listened, anyway.
  • How did Steele manage to get ahead of Balto to sabotage his trail markers? He was already lost, and Balto had a head start by the time he made it back up the cliff, never mind about finding his trail in the first place. Furthermore, how did Steele leave that many false claw marks and not get hopelessly lost himself?
  • The people of Nome sure seem to be lenient with stray dogs. Not only is Balto, a wolf-dog, able to wander through Nome relatively freely, but despite the townsfolk's fear of him, they're content to just shoo him off if he ever seems to step out of line. Is there any reason they do that instead of trying to housebreak or kill him (not that I'm complaining)? Furthermore, if he's a stray, why did they bother to even name him?
    • Answers may be found in real-life cases of wild animals who become half-tame or at least tolerated presences in communities. Communities do nickname local wild animals. For example, a wolf living in the Mendenhall Valley in Alaska that was known for interacting on friendly terms with people and dogs in the area (particularly the town of Juneau) for years was known as Romeo. When he was shot, it was by out-of-state hunters and local people were sad to lose the characterful presence. What we see of Balto's interactions with the townspeople fits the same kind of pattern: people aren't scared of Balto, he's a tolerated presence and occasional nuisance but not a menace. He's just a local stray. You wouldn't let your young child play with a stray half-wolf no matter how docile he seemed; you'd be hesitant to imagine he could act as a loyal and disciplined sled dog no matter how fast he can run; and if he apparently snarled at you, you'd respect that and back off. But none of that adds up to, 'this terrifying beast of hell will destroy us all, fetch the shotgun'.
  • Why doesn't Balto have any lines for alost the final 25 minutes of the movie? Were there meta reasons like Kevin Bacon quitting or running out of time to animate some scenes towards the end? Or did the scriptwriters simply feel there was nothing Balto needed to say at the conclusion of his character arc and heroic journey?
    • I suppose Balto's own arc is basically over at the point he stands up and howls back to the White Wolf, the point at which he accepts his wolf side and comes into his own power. From that point on he operates confidently and sure-footedly. All that remains to be resolved by the end of the film is how other characters and communities relate to him. So the townspeople and the dogs and his friends need lines marking their changed attitude, but Balto can't say much of any significance in response. The only other thing that happens at the end in the resolution of his romance with Jenna. A line or two between them wouldn't have gone amiss, but presumably the writers felt that that nose-touch said it all.
    • Also, considering what happens throughout the third act, his dialogue probably wouldn't be all that kid-friendly.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Headscratchers/Balto