Saturday, 17 December 2016

That dogs movie!

Hungarian movie WHITE GOD (2014) is a contemporary drama that, with an almost painful slowness, becomes surrealist horror. Lili loves her mongrel named Hagen but house pets are unwanted by the little girl’s father. Tragedy is a likely consequence of parental neglect, and Lili gets in trouble here nearly as often as the lost or abandoned barking-mad hounds and rabid strays in kennels. From a shelter in Budapest, various dogs form packs in a suddenly violent revolt against human indifference and cruelty.

This European production sets a new world record for the most dogs appearing in a movie but the main action focuses on Hagen. The homeless man who finds the mutt and sells it into a dog-fighting ring appears wholly unsympathetic, although he’s actually just as forsaken by a callous society as Hagen is. This is not Lassie Come Home, it’s a man bites dog world that obviously looks inspired by Hitchcock’s The Birds. However, social-political commentary on urban deprivation and victims of economic programmes is the filmmaker’s aim.

Some quite stylish cinematography is evident - particularly in scenes of the dogs on the loose through city streets, and for the canine version of parkour that energises Hagen’s chase sequences with animal-control cops. As Lili plays a trumpet in an orchestra, there’s an off-beat but strong ‘Pied Piper’ aspect to this poetic dark fairytale about thoughtless oppression and fierce rebellion.

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