Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage) has spent his
entire life seeking a treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers, who left clues to
its whereabouts on the back of the Declaration of Independence. When he learns
of a plot to steal the famous document, Ben has only one option: steal it
himself. Even if he can pull off this monumental task, keeping the treasure safe
means staying one step ahead of the bad guys –and the FBI agents hot on his
American Humane’s role
American Humane’s Film & Television Unit monitored this film. National
Treasure is a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) production, and therefore it was
required to provide American Humane’s Certified Animal Safety Representatives
on-set access whenever animals were used. During pre-production of the film,
American Humane’s Film & TV Unit received a copy of the script and the daily
call sheets. American Humane’s Animal Safety Representatives carefully reviewed
these materials to determine whether any scenes or situations appeared to put
animals at risk. Animal Safety Representatives were then on the set to ensure
the animals remained safe throughout production.
This film met the
Guidelines established by American Humane, received the Monitored
Acceptable rating, and was awarded the "No Animals Were Harmed”™ End Credit
Featured animal scenes
One rainy night scene features a two-horse team pulling a carriage through a
cobblestone alley and street. To gradually introduce the horses to this action,
trainers first rehearsed the sequence at a walk and without the special effects
rain and lightening. When the horses felt comfortable with that action, trainers
slowly increased the speed to a lope and added the stormy elements.
Experienced stuntmen – not actors – controlled the carriage and slowed the
horses to a trot at the end of the alley before the coach rounded the corner and
came to a stop. Stuntmen waited at the beginning and end of the run, and for
added safety, additional wranglers were stationed at the beginning, middle, and
end of the trajectory. All horses wore padded borium shoes and were blanketed
In one shot, pigeons scatter when Ben runs down a street in a chase sequence. To
get these ambient birds to congregate, wranglers sprinkled the sidewalk with
canary seed prior to each take. Approximately a dozen pigeons fed on the seed
and naturally dispersed when the actor ran toward them.
A historical montage includes shots of a mounted white horse standing on a
Revolutionary War battlefield. The mortar explosions seen in this sequence were
made of dust and walnut shells and were not noisy, as sound was not filmed at
that time. Also, since the director wanted to see only “powder shots” – the
white puffs of smoke discharged from the rifle –1/8 loads were used, which
produced minimal noise.
American Humane’s Animal Safety Representatives also monitored additional scenes
that involved horses, an Old English sheepdog, Madagascar cockroaches, and rats.
Although these animals did not make it into the theatrical release of the film,
the production complied with our
Guidelines for all animal action in National Treasure.