Writers are often asked about the influences that shaped their writing. One aspect that comes to my mind is the interaction of animals and humans. When I think about this particular aspect, a fantasy movie comes to mind from my childhood: The Three Lives of Thomasina. This was a Walt Disney fantasy film and released in 1963. It starred Patrick McGoohan, Susan Hampshire and child actress, Karen Dotrice. This is a story about a ginger cat and her influence upon a family. It was filmed in Inveraray, Argyll, Scotland and in London, England and based on Paul Gallico’s novel.
The story takes place in the town of Inveranoch, Scotland in 1912 with Andrew MacDhui (Patrick McGoohan), an atheistic veterinarian, his seven year old daughter, Mary (Karen Dotrice) and her cat, Thomasina. MacDhui is a widower with little sympathy for people’s pets.
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On the day MacDhui is operating on a dog who was struck by a car, Thomasina is chased by dogs in the marketplace, falls off some boxes and sustains an injury. MacDhui mis-diagnoses her as having tetanus and orders his assistant to put Thomasina to sleep. Thomasina is not fully anesthetized, and at this point in the story, she experiences an out-of-the-body, fantasy trip to "Cat Heaven", where she encounters Bast the ancient Egyptian Cat Goddess. Mary, meanwhile, is shattered by both Thomasina's apparent death and her loss of faith in her father. Mary and her playmates give Thomasina a funeral. They take her out to the glen beyond the town, but are unintentionally frightened away by "Mad Lori" MacGregor (Susan Hampshire), a kind-hearted young woman who lives outside of the town. Some of the townspeople believe her to be a witch, but although she is a bit of a recluse, she has great love and sympathy for all sick and injured things.
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Lori nurses Thomasina back to health, but the cat now has no memory of her "First Life" with Mary. Late one night, Thomasina returns to the town; Mary sees her and chases her into the rainstorm pursued by MacDhui. Thomasina returns to the safety of her "Second Life" with Lori. Mary then contracts pneumonia and becomes dangerously ill. MacDhui, meanwhile, has come to know Lori as many of the townspeople are boycotting his practice, and turns to her to try to help Mary recover. The same night Mary reaches the crisis stage, Thomasina sees lightning strike the tree outside Lori's cottage, and the shock restores her memory. Thomasina races back to the MacDhui house in time to save Mary. At Lori's urging, MacDhui himself coaxes Thomasina back through the window, and he himself places Thomasina in Mary's arms, thereby symbolically restoring both Thomasina to Mary, and Mary's love for her father. MacDhui, in the meantime, has grown to love Lori and develops a more sympathetic attitude in general. Then MacDhui and Lori marry, and Thomasina now begins her "Third Life" with them.
What movies influenced your writing?
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