a look at canines past…
The Alpine Mastiff is an extinct Molosser dog breed, the progenitor of the St. Bernard and a major contributor to the modern Mastiff (through such dogs as “Couchez”), as well as to other breeds that derive from these breeds or are closely related to them. The names “Alpine Mastiff” and “Saint Bernard” were used interchangeably in the early 19th century, though the variety that was kept at the hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass was significantly altered by introducing other breeds, including Newfoundland and Great Dane, and it is this composite breed that now carries the name St. Bernard. Inevitably these dogs filtered through to the wider population, and the original variety dwindled in its pure form, though a rare breed, the “Cane Garouf” or “Patua”, found in the part of the Alps formerly inhabited by the Alpine Mastiff, may also descend from the extinct breed.
No one seems to have full knowledge as to how the Blue Pauls were bred or from where they originally came. There was a story that John Paul Jones, the Scottish born American sailor, brought them from abroad and landed some when he visited his native town of Kirkcudbright about 1770. The Gypsies around the Kin Tilloch district kept Blue Pauls, which they fought for their own amusement. They were game to the death and could suffer much punishment. They were expert and tricky in their fighting tactics, which made them great favorites with those who indulged in this sport. They maintained that the breed originally came from the Galloway coast, which lends support to the Paul Jones legend. The first dogs to arrive in the United States with the English immigrants in the mid-19th century were the Blue Paul Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
The Bullenbeisser (also known as the German Bulldog) was a breed of dog known for its strength and agility. The breed was closely related to the Bärenbeisser (some believe that the two breeds were the same (the names mean “bull-biter” and “bear-biter”), and the Boxer. There were two regional varieties, the Brabanter Bullenbeisser and the Danziger Bullenbeisser. The Bullenbeisser became extinct by crossbreeding rather than by a decadence of the breed, as happened with the Old Time Bulldog, for instance. In the late 1870s, German breeders Roberth, Konig, and Hopner used the dog to create a new breed, today called the Boxer. Some 30 Bullenbeissers were already crossed by the Boxer Kennel Club of Germany at 1900 in with Bulldogs brought from the British Isles. The blood composition was 50/50 at that time, however, the German owners started crossing their dogs with all kinds of Bulldogs and Boxers, which produced an undistinguishable breed after the World War II. One reason why such quantity of German blood was used to create the Boxer dog was the wish to eliminate the excessive white color of the breed, and the necessity of producing thousands of dogs for one of the most popular breeds in the world.
The Cordoba Fighting Dog originated in Córdoba, Argentina. The breed had such strong aggression toward other dogs that the males and females would rather fight than mate. In addition, many members of this breed died in the dog fighting pits, contributing to the breed’s extinction. The Cordoba was capable of hunting in a small pack of a male and female, otherwise they were more likely to turn on their packmates. The Cordoba was used as a contributing breed to create the Dogo Argentino.
Among the breed’s ancestors, the most notable is the Bull Terrier, which at the time was still used in England for dog fights – at the same time Bull Terriers were being exported to the Indian subcontinent where today their lineage includes the Gull Terr.
Dogo Cubano or Cuban Mastiff or Cuban Dogo or Cuban Dogge is an extinct breed of dog from Cuba. It was of Bull Mastiff type. This breed of dog was used for dog fighting.
This breed of dog was introduced in Cuba to capture runaway slaves (cimarrones). After the abolition of slavery it became too expensive to feed and the breed ceased to exist with time.
It is thought by some that the breed originated from cross-breedings between native Tahltan dogs and dogs brought to the North American continent by Viking explorers during the Norse colonization of the Americas, as it bears strong similarities to Icelandic breeds in appearance and behavior, such as cat-like body rubbing to express affection. Though originally spread over most of the northern regions of North America, the breed fell into decline after the introduction of firearms made its hunting abilities redundant. It gradually intermingled with other breeds such as the Newfoundland dog, the Canadian Eskimo dog and Mongrels.
Kurī is the Māori language name for the Polynesian dog. It was introduced to New Zealand by Māori during their migrations from East Polynesia sometime around 1280 AD. It was used by Māori as a food source and the skin and hair was used for making dog-skin cloaks, belts, decorating weapons, and poi. The kurī became extinct in New Zealand some time after the arrival of European settlers. The last known specimens, a female and her pup, are now in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
The Paisley Terrier was a breed of terrier type dog from Great Britain, bred primarily as a pet and showdog version of the Skye Terrier, and was the progenitor of today’s Yorkshire Terrier. The Paisley Terrier was described in 1894 as “an excellent house dog, and most suitable for a lady who wishes something more substantial than a toy”, but the care requirements for the coat made it less desirable than some other popular breeds as a pet.
The St. John’s Water Dog, also called the St. John’s Dog or the Lesser Newfoundland, was a naturally-occurring dog breed from Newfoundland. Little is known of the breeds that went into its creation, although it was likely a random-bred mix of old Irish, English, and Portuguese working breeds. This breed is the ancestor of the modern Retrievers; including the Flat Coated Retriever, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the Golden Retriever, and the Labrador Retriever. The St. John’s Dog was also the founding breed of the large and gentle Newfoundland dog, likely as a result of breeding with mastiffs brought to the island by the generations of Portuguese fishermen who had been fishing offshore since the 15th century. The St. John’s dog was made extinct in its homeland by a combination of two factors. In an attempt to encourage sheep raising, heavy restrictions and taxes were placed on dog ownership during the 19th century.
Raised by the Tahltan Natives to hunt bear, the Tahltan Bear Dog was a mighty power in a small package. The Tahltan Bear Dog had the courage to face a bear, but was friendly and gentle with smaller animals and with humans. They lived in the tent with the family, sharing bed and board. Descended from pariah-type dogs that had come with prehistoric migrations, the Tahltan Dogs were centralized in the remote mountainous areas of northwestern British Columbia and the Southern Yukon. Their usual diet was small bits of birds, meat and fish, and they flourished in the bitter cold. Outside their native environment, they succumbed to distemper, heat prostration and problems due to dietary changes. As white explorers came into the territory, bringing a variety of other dogs, the Tahltan Dog became diluted.
Ancient Egyptians gave the name Tesem Tesem ( = tsm) to curly tailed dogs that resembled a sighthound such as a Greyhound. These dogs were featured on monuments, and in wall paintings that showed their tall, lean body with the noticeable prick ears. They had a greyish-yellow coat, with long legs and a broad prominent forehead. Their size exceeded the Pariah dogs of the time. Their structure of their skeleton was closer to the modern terrier than that of the modern greyhound.
The Turnspit Dog was a short-legged, long-bodied dog bred to run on a wheel, called a turnspit or dog wheel, to turn meat so it would cook evenly. It is also known as the Kitchen Dog, the Cooking Dog, the Underdog and the Vernepator. This took both courage (to stand near the fire) and loyalty (not to eat the roast). Due to the strenuous nature of the work, a pair of dogs would often be worked in shifts. This may have led to the proverb ‘every dog has his day.’ The dogs were also taken to church to serve as foot warmers. Just as the invention of the spinning-jenny abolished the use of distaff and wheel, which were formerly the occupants of every well-ordained English cottage, so the invention of automaton roasting-jacks has destroyed the occupation of the Turnspit Dog, and by degrees has almost annihilated its very existence.
“one of the great obsessional passions of all time…”
One night during the pre-production phase on A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell asked Stanley Kubrick why he was eating ice cream at the same time as his main course steak. “What’s the difference?” said Kubrick. “It’s all food. This is how Napoleon used to eat.”
Well that’s how McDowell tells it anyway. There are lots of near-mythical stories about Kubrick’s comprehensive research. That he was probably the most meticulous of film directors known to man is not open to debate, and Napoleon, the film he tried and failed to make for decades, is the best example of his attention to detail. Kubrick believed nobody had ever made a great historical film, and planned to change this with a three-hour epic, telling the story of the French emperor’s entire life.
Kubrick thought Napoleon was the most interesting man to have ever walked the Earth. He called his life “an epic poem of action”, thought his relationship with Josephine was “one of the great obsessional passions of all time”, and said, “He was one of those rare men who move history and mold the destiny of their own times and of generations to come.” Getting to work on the film in the mid-60s, after 2001 was released, he sent an assistant around the world to literally follow in Napoleon’s footsteps (”Wherever Napoleon went, I want you to go,” he told him), even getting him to bring back samples of earth from Waterloo so he could match them for the screen.
He read hundreds of books on the man and broke the information down into categories “on everything from his food tastes to the weather on the day of a specific battle”. He gathered together 15,000 location scouting photos and 17,000 slides of Napoleonic imagery.
the production outline…
He would shoot the film in France and Italy, for their grand locations, and Yugoslavia, for their cheap armies. These were pre-CG days, and he arranged to borrow 40,000 Romanian infantry and 10,000 cavalry for the battles. “I wouldn’t want to fake it with fewer troops,” he said to an interviewer at the time, “because Napoleonic battles were out in the open, a vast tableau where the formations moved in an almost choreographic fashion. I want to capture this reality on film, and to do so it’s necessary to recreate all the conditions of the battle with painstaking accuracy.”
He wanted David Hemmings and Audrey Hepburn for the leads, with Alec Guinness and Laurence Olivier as supporting characters, but it all came crashing down when, partly as a result of another Napoleon film, Waterloo, being released in 1970, studios decided Kubrick’s dream was too financially risky. In the early 1980s, he still talked of wanting to make the film, but it wasn’t to be. Although he died in 1999, there’s a chance his vision may see the light of day; it’s been offered to the likes of Ridley Scott and Ang Lee.
Tony Frewin was Kubrick’s assistant from 1965 until the director died (and beyond). I called him up for a first-hand account of what it was like to be in Kubrick’s Napoleonic vortex.
Vice: So tell me how your life with Stanley began. You were an office boy for him, right?
Tony Frewin: Well, a runner. Office boy I think rather glorifies it.
V: How did you come across him in the first place?
TF: I grew up in Borehamwood and he’d just moved in to MGM Studios down the road on the pre-production of 2001. My father had just quit the management at MGM but he’d gone to work for Stanley, and he just kept on at me, saying, “Come down, we need a runner on this.” I think I said something crass – in those days, in the mid-60s, we only ever went to see foreign language films, French films: Antonioni, Fellini, Bergman, Bunuel. Terribly snobbish. And I think I said something crass like, “Well if it was Jean-Luc Godard I might be interested.” Ah God. What a prick.
V: The pretentiousness of youth.
TF: Oh absolutely. You squirm when you think of it. Oh God. Anyway, I went down one Sunday afternoon and my dad showed me into this office, which was absolutely full of books on fantastic art, surrealism, Dadaism, cosmology, flying saucers, and I thought, “Fuck, I wouldn’t mind working here just to have access to these books.” And then Stanley came in, who I thought was an office cleaner, with a baggy pair of trousers and a sports jacket with ink stains all over it. And we got chatting, for about two hours, and he said, “When can you start?” and I said, “When do you want me to?” and he said, “Seven o’clock tomorrow morning.” I said, “You’ve got a deal.” That was a week after my 17th birthday.
V: What sort of running work was it? Anything that was required?
TF: Yeah, and it was always like that. People used to say, “What’s the management structure like there?” at Hawk Films, or whatever we called ourselves, and I’d say, “Well, there’s Stanley at the top, and then everybody else.” There were no tiers of middle management, there was Stanley at the apex and all the rest of us on the bottom line. But it was a tremendous education working for Stanley; he was an intellectual Catherine Wheel of ideas and projects and ideas and enthusiasm. You really earnt your nickel working for Stanley, but as [Full Metal Jacket writer] Michael Herr says in that lovely little book [Kubrick]: nobody earnt their nickel more than Stanley himself. He lived by example, not by dictat.
V: When do you remember him first talking about Napoleon?
TF: I remember when we were working on 2001, he had a sort of fascination with military figures, he was always very interested in Julius Caesar, particularly the invasion of Britain, but this ability to be a man of action, an intellectual, a strategist, with political objectives, and how you balanced all this and did what was right, I guess Napoleon grew out of that.
V: The research and planning he did for Napoleon is near legendary.
TF: Yeah. He did a lot on all his films, not least of which was on the abandoned project, Wartime Lies, about the Holocaust. We spent nearly two years, day in day out, researching that. And in that same period Spielberg got the idea for Schindler’s List, did the pre-production, made the film, released it, and we were still shuffling index cards.
V: So Schindler’s List just killed it for him?
TF: Well, he’d always wanted to do a film about the Holocaust, but it presented certain problems. As Stanley said, if you really want to make an accurate film about the Holocaust, it’s got to be unwatchable. But he thought Schindler’s List was a hard act to follow, and it wasn’t the right time to do Wartime Lies. You know what [historian] Raul Hilberg said about Schindler’s List? He wrote this massive three-volume study of the destruction of the European Jews, quite witty and funny too, but he said Schindler’s List was a success story. A feelgood picture.
V: That’s one way of looking at it. In terms of Stanley’s fascination with Napoleon, what do you know of Malcolm McDowell’s story about him eating dessert and steak at the same time, because that’s how Napoleon used to eat?
TF: I’d take that with a pinch of Bolivian marching powder.
V: Do you think the levels of research he carried out and his attention to the smallest detail was all part of the fun?
TF: Well, it was a means to an end. He said, “God is in the detail.” But he knew when to cut his research, when to stop it. Barry Lyndon is a wonderful example of a historical film correctly done, right down to the lighting. Unlike all this crap you see on the BBC now. What he aimed for was for that it actually looked like at the time. It’s a wonderful film.
V: Do you think if he was making films today he would have utilised CGI?
TF: Oh absolutely.
V: What about for extras? He’d hired 40,000 or so troops for Napoleon; do you think now he would have done that with CGI, or would he still have hired all those people for authenticity’s sake?
TF: I think it would depend very much on the shot. Some shots you might need a couple of thousand, and then some CGI. Although I don’t think he would have automatically thought, let’s CGI everything.
V: Was he enthusiastic about new technology in that area?
TF: Oh absolutely, from the word go. He used to say anything that saved time was worth its weight in gold. The rest of us were sort of luddites, but he wasn’t. In 1980 he bought us all IBM green screens. These were the first PCs that were generally available, little 12″ screens. You didn’t even have a hard drive, you had two floppies. And Stanley said, “This is the future, this is what we’ll be using.” And I told him, “No, I like to type something and take out the piece of paper and see what’s on it,” and he said, “No, listen, you’ve got to get rid of that, this is the future, it’s arrived now.” He wasn’t at all conservative in that way; we had fax machines before anybody else did. People would say, “What the fuck do you want a fax machine for?” But he’d grab anything that saved time and made things look better.
V: How would you feel about Ridley Scott making the film?
TF: Well, he’s a very competent director, but it would be a very different film from Stanley’s. There’s only one Stanley who could make a Stanley Kubrick film.