It all started with a meatball.
In 2014, shortly before the start of the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador, the captain of the Swedish team Peak Performance gave one of his meatballs to a stray dog. That stout little canine then decided to follow the team for six days through hundreds of miles of Ecuadorian jungle, winning the hearts of the entire world along the way.
Almost a decade later, the moving story of Arthur the dog is now coming to the big screen. Mark Wahlberg, Simu Liu, and even Bear Grylls star in the film. It’s based on the 2017 book by Swedish team captain Mikael Lindnord, Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home. In an Instagram post, Lindnord said he felt proud of the film’s portrayal of events.
“Of course, it’s a great honor to be portrayed by Mark Wahlberg,” Lindnord wrote. “Some of the scenes on set was very, very strong and so close to real life, it felt like I relived the moments with Arthur again.”
However, Hollywood often takes liberties with the truth when retelling “incredible true stories,” and Arthur the King is no different. The film’s version of events has transplanted the story from Ecuador to the Dominican Republic. That has resulted in many frustrated comments on social media posts announcing the film this week.
“Why is not even mentioned that Arthur was from Ecuador 🇪🇨? Mike and Arthur met here! Not in the Dominican Republic,” said one of many commenters on the official announcement on Instagram.
For most viewers (myself included), the movies will likely require a handkerchief by the end, regardless of the setting. The real version of events is more than enough to tug on heartstrings, as the story ends with Lindnord adopting Arthur and taking him home to Sweden. His team took 12th place overall that year, starting the race as a team of four, but ending it as a team of five.
In other words, the best sports stories aren’t always about the winners. Sometimes, they’re about an athlete setting aside personal goals for a fellow human — or animal, in this case. When Arthur died in 2020, Lindnord wrote a lovely tribute to him on Instagram.
“One thing you took with you is why you chose me. You never told me. I guess it doesn’t matter,” he wrote. “Thanks Ecuador for borrowing us this beautiful soul.”
Runtime: 2.5 minutes (trailer)