my-dog-tulip-apr-26thBased on the autobiographical novel by the former literary editor of The Listener, J R Ackerley (voiced splendidly by Christopher Plummer), My Dog Tulip chronicles the author’s loving relationship with a German Shepherd, rescued from a dog’s home. Made by a husband and wife team, Sandra Ferlinger’s hand drawn and watercolour animation of London is a labour of love. Definitely not made for children, delightfully playful in content including some adult themes! (Cert 12A)
Dir: Paul & Sandra Fierlinger 78 mins USA 2009

Programme Notes

My Dog Tulip
USA 2009 78 minutes Cert. 12A

When one thinks of animation films featuring dogs, one may think of Lady and the Tramp or One Hundred and One Dalmatians. These were cosy and enjoyable films for children. Tonight’s film is definitely not in that category. Based on one of three works of J R Ackerley, a literary editor of the BBC’s The Listener, this is an autobiographical tale of the confirmed bachelor’s relationship with his Alsatian bitch Tulip. He acquired Tulip quite late in life and she became his one love and constant companion for the next 16 years. At first she was a typical playful, excitable and cantankerous eighteen month old bitch. Gradually Ackerley came to the conclusion that what perhaps Tulip needed was a mate for life – such as he himself had never found – and a lot of the film is taken up with his efforts to mate her, resulting in some quite surprising and adult themes in the animation. This is a film that, if you like dogs, you may love but which you may hate if, say, you are more of a cat person.

Other works by J R Ackerley include the memoirs Hindoo Holiday and My Father and Myself, and a novel called We Think The World Of You (made into a film in 1988 with Alan Bates, Gary Oldman and Max Wall). My Dog Tulip was Lynn Redgrave’s last film, and Christopher Plummer gives just the right sort of tone as the narrator, Ackerley.

This animation is the first animated film ever to be entirely hand drawn and painted using paperless computer technology. There is no CGI or anything modern like that, and consequently we get a rather quaint and charming film a bit different from you would normally expect. This is a good and unusual film with which to end our season and we hope you will enjoy it.

J R Ackerley – Christopher Plummer
Nancy/ Greengrocer’s wife – Lynn Redgrave
Ms Canvenini – Isabella Rossellini
Mr Plum/ Pugilist – Peter Gerety
Captain Pugh/ Mr Blandish – Brian Murray
Army Veterinarian – Paul Hecht
Cyclist/ Rude Veterinarian – Euan Morton

Directors – Paul Fierlinger, Sandra Fierlinger
Screenplay – Paul Fierlinger, Sandra Fierlinger based on memoir by J R Ackerley
Original Music – John Avarese
Producers – Howard Kaminsky, Frank Pellegrino, Norman Twain

“No parents of a child have never been more observant or taken better care of their charge.” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“The Fierlingers’ animation is disarming: Tulip, in a constant and happy kerfuffle, chased about by Ackerley, his long, bespectacled figure bent over in attempts to contain her. … As a memoir of cross-species affection, the film should charm dog fanciers – and anyone else, really, who has ever looked in the eyes of a loving animal and wondered why people don’t measure up.” Amy Biancholi, San Francisco Chronicle

The Committee hopes that you have enjoyed the varied range of films we have put on for your enjoyment this season and looks forward to the pleasure of your company next season. Happy Summer Holidays!


“A great delight – fascinating animation”

“I loved the drawings.”

“A delightful tale, beautifully illustrated”

“An intelligent delight!”

“Mental dog food!”

“So evocative of place and period – some superb moments”

“Charming film – so who is in charge!”

“Cave canem!”

“I’m not normally a fan of animation nor of sentimentality but I did find this engaging because [it was] beautifully drawn and charmingly told. Sociologically well observed too – a good portrayal of time, place and class.”

“Third time I’ve seen this film and it gets better every time. A real life shaggy dog story.”

“Very charming, loved the graphic style. Could have done with less scatology – dogs seem a whole lot less graceful and resourceful than cats. Very good sense of the 1950s and [its] class-ridden atmosphere.”

“There were no major flaws in this charming animal film. The animation aesthetics may make the average student of the form grind his/her teeth but the quirky production values made it a noteworthy adaptation of Ackerly’s novel.”

“Christopher Plummer as David Attenborough as J. R. Ackerley!”

“Enjoyable on several levels: the story; the dog and the philosophy of human/animal [interactions]; the animation and style.”

“Lots of talent but very repetitive!”

“Not being all that fond of dogs, I’m even less fond [of them] now! Good artwork, though.”

“I don’t think I’ll be getting a dog …. engaging film though.”

“Certainly different and interesting but not, to me, at all funny being far too focussed on matters faecal. I know a dog similar to Tulip at her worst – also an Alsatian – and she hates only me, so perhaps that put me off!”


A:11, B:15, C:5, D:2, E:0 to give 77%