Sunday, 1 March 2015

White God - a film review

Teenager Lili is sent to stay with her estranged father, who isn't happy about looking after her or her dog, Hagen. He eventually throws Hagen out into the streets and Lili is unable to find her beloved pet, despite wandering round for ages.

Hagen is having adventures of his own, meeting up with other strays and learning how to find a living from market stalls and refuse piles. Then he is captured and trained as a fighting dog. After he kills another dog in a fight, he escapes and leads a pack of strays and abandoned dogs on a mission to punish the humans who have mistreated them.

This is a gripping and sobering film about human mistreatement of animals. It also acts as a metaphor for human mistreatment of groups of people considered to be undesirable. (I think it has a particular resonance with the political situation in Hungary, the film's country of origin, but I don't know enough about Hungarian social issues to comment specifically on that.)

The funny thing is, anyone watching the dogs (who collectively won the Palm Dog Award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival) chasing round the streets can tell that these aren't dogs on a killing rampage, they're just domestic dogs enjoying a nice run with their friends, look at all those wagging tails! Which makes the viewer happy that no dogs were harmed in this film and doesn't detract from the drama!

White God is showing at Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema until Thursday 5 March.


Bill said...

Those wagging tails do seem problematic. Does the filmmaker do anything to make them work for the film, or are we just supposed to ignore them? Obviously, I haven't seen the film, and I don't know if it will be shown in the US.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi Bill, I think it works because the dogs are running at top speed and the viewer is caught up in the drama. I don't know how many viewers will notice the wagging tails to be honest!