Thursday, February 9, 2017

Movie Review: White God

I recently saw the film White God, and was so pleased with it that I felt the need to share. This is unlike any move I've ever seen before, and it's at the very least a masterpiece of dog training. The cast of this Hungerian film includes a cast of over 200 dogs. That's more dogs than have ever been used in a movie before, in case you were wondering.
This movie goes through three distinct phases, almost like changes of genre. It begins as a kid-and-dog movie. Thirteen-year-old Lili has a dog that she loves. Her parents are divorced, she has been living with her mother, and then must go live with her father for a while. Lili plays trumpet in the orchestra, and carries her instrument around in her backpack like a devoted musician. Lili's father doesn't want to keep her dog, Hagen, and she fights to make poor Hagen fit into her new life.

The second phase begins when Lili's father dumps Hagen on the street and drives away. Then the film becomes a dog's perspective movie. Hagen searches for Lili, and eventually ends up running with a pack of stray dogs living in a vacant lot. The stray life isn't so bad, but dogcatchers come to round everyone up, and Hagen ends up in the hands of dogfighters. After being transformed into a winning prizefighter, Hagen escapes along with a legion of unwanted dogs.

This is the point at which the film becomes a horror movie. The dogs run wild through the streets, exacting bloody revenge upon everyone who wronged them. The scenes in this part are absolutely breathtaking, with massive numbers of dogs moving in coordination together. They're also shockingly gory, way more gruesome than I expected given the heartwarming tone of the earlier parts of the film.

Ultimately, Lili meets Hagen and his army, and makes a brief and spectacular piece. The final scene includes over 200 dogs laying down in the street. These were almost entirely strays picked up off the streets and trained for this film, and the amount of training and skill is evident. It is absolutely beautiful.

I found this movie to be incredible from both a dog trainer perspective, and as a fan of foreign films. Beware the gore towards the end, the scenes of implied animal abuse, and remember that it has subtitles. I don't normally cry at movies, and this one was no exception, however it did make my friend cry.

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