The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

A boy, mole, fox and horse - The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse





Paul Asay

TV Series Review

A Boy wanders in the snow and meets a mole curiously obsessed with cake. They talk about cake for a bit, and slowly the conversation turns toward fears and wonders and life.

“What do you dream about?” Mole asks the Boy.

“Home,” the Boy says.

“Oh,” Mole says. “What’s that like?”

“I don’t know,” says the Boy. “I’m not sure. But I know I need one.”

And so the two begin to look for Home. They meet a wiry, wary fox, who at first wants to eat Mole but ultimately thinks better of it. They meet a horse, solemn and tall. Together, they walk through the snow, through beautiful fields and terrifying storms, looking for Home.

And they find it.

Having Our Cake and Sharing It, Too

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is an animated poem of sorts. It’s based on a bestselling illustrated book by Charlie Mackesy that seems, at first glance, written for kids—but perhaps is treasured by adults even more.

Perhaps it’s because the wisdom it offers doesn’t age.

“What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” Horse is asked.

Help,” the horse answers. “Asking for help isn’t giving up; it’s refusing to give up.”

At another point, the boy looks at his reflection in a river. “Isn’t it odd,” he tells Mole. “We can only see our outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside.”

You could think of the main characters as four separate protagonists, but author Mackesy had a different goal in mind.

“All four characters represent different parts of the same person,” he told The Guardian, “the inquisitive boy, the mole who’s enthusiastic but a bit greedy, the fox who’s been hurt so is withdrawn from life, slow to trust but wants to be part of things, and the horse who’s the wisest bit, the deepest part of you, the soul.”

Apple TV+ captures the book’s loose, flowing artwork and meditative spirit. Play the thing on mute, and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is still gorgeous. Still, in its own way, powerful.

The story has moments of peril. The travelers suffer through a blustering storm. The Fox, at first, is terrifying—chasing the Boy and Mole up a tree before they, in turn, find the Fox caught in a snare.

“If I wasn’t caught in this snare, I’d kill you,” He hisses to Mole.

“If you stay in this snare, you’ll die,” Mole tells him before setting him free.

We do see some moments of low-level violence, too. The Boy falls off the horse. Mole literally snowballs down a hill and plunges into a rushing stream. (We also hear what sounds like a misuse of God’s name, too.)

But the story reminds us of important elements that both children and adults can be reminded of from time to time.

“When the big things feel out of control, focus on the things you love right under your nose.”

“You are loved and important, and you bring to this world things that no one else can. So hold on.”

It tells us, explicitly, that we are put on this world to love, and to be loved. That’s a sweet statement, and one that Christians who are watching can add a neat little addendum to: We are here to love and be loved by God, most of all.

Parents will have to add that half-step on, of course. But The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, through its lyrical artwork and poignant flow, invites introspection and thought. It encourages sharing. It sends us looking for our own Home, inward and outward.

And in this Christmas season, this unusual offering from AppleTV+ encourages us to look past its products and commercialization and consider other, more important things.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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