A Dog of Flanders

Movie review by
Polly M. Robertus, Common Sense Media
A Dog of Flanders Movie Poster Image
Old-fashioned, sentimental tale of determination.
  • NR
  • 1959
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Whipping of dog implied. Windmill blades kill a villainous dog-beater.


Faint implication that the artist and his model are lovers; her nude back is shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this video shows many deeply affecting scenes involving a beaten dog, and the death of a grandfather. It also depicts the death of a dog-abuser by a windmill blade, which some younger children may not understand.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byJohn W. August 1, 2017

Wonderful holiday film my entire family loved

Finally wholesome entertainment with uplifting values and well crafted, beautiful filmed and directed with a great cast.
Good work Warner Brothers! Please make... Continue reading

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What's the story?

While struggling with poverty and becoming an artist, a poor orphaned Flemish boy named Nello (David Ladd) rescues and befriends a dog.

Is it any good?

A DOG OF FLANDERS is a fine, though unabashedly sentimental, story of triumph over adversity, but children expecting the dog to play a major role may be disappointed. This earlier version of the classic novel is slightly better than the more recent movie. Ladd, as the young hero of the movie, speaks his lines too carefully, but the rest of the cast, including Theodore Bikel, does a convincing job. It moves slowly, imparting lots of information about 19th-century Flanders and the training and work of an artist, but the material is always interesting and well integrated into the story.

An 11-year-old viewer wondered aloud about the title of A Dog of Flanders when so much of the movie is about Nello's determination to become a painter rather than his rescue of the dog. But she was entirely engrossed in the movie and cried -- hard -- when the grandfather died, leaving Nello and his dog alone and hungry. Although it is slow-paced, this is fine family fare, old-fashioned in its sentimentality and fairly educational.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the tragedy here. Many popular films for kids have sad elements -- like Bambi or Finding Nemo. Why do you think that is? Do kids gain anything from this painful plotting?

Movie details

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