Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Zsófia Psotta, Sándor Zsótér, Lili Manori, Laszlo Galffi, Szabolcs Thuróczy, Lili Horváth, Erwin Nagy, Kornel Mundruczo, Gergely Banki, Tamas Polgar, Karoly Ascher, Erika Bodnar, Natasa Stork
Written by: Kornél Mundruczó, Viktória Petrányi, Kata Wéber
Directed by: Kornél Mundruczó
MPAA Rating: R for violent content including bloody images, and language
Language: Hungarian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 121
Date: 03/27/2015
IMDB

White God (2015)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Raw Dogs

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Hailing from Hungary, Kornel Mundruczo's White God is a dog film, but don't let your kids see it. It has moments of breathtaking majesty, but also images of rotten brutality; it may make you feel ashamed to be human. A child of divorce, Lili (Zsófia Psotta) is dumped with her father, Daniel (Sándor Zsótér), while her mother goes abroad. With her, she has her beloved dog Hagen. Unfortunately, a new city law requires all non-purebred dogs to have a special license, and before long city agents are banging on the door of Daniel's apartment. When Lili quits the school band (partly because she brought Hagen to practice), Daniel dumps Hagen out of the car and drives off. Lili starts looking for him, but sinks into despair. Hagen, meanwhile, is befriended by a pack of wild dogs, then caught and trained to be a fighter. (These training sequences are some of the film's most wince-inducing.) Then, as if out of a sci-fi movie, all the dogs decide to revolt against their once-masters. This leads to some unbelievably striking imagery, with dogs zipping through the empty city streets like fish in a creek. Ultimately, it suggests a correlation between dogs and men; they are only as mean as the humans that try to control them, but a little kindness goes a long way.

It's helpful to know a little of the backstory of White God, because the 274 dogs were largely rescued from shelters, and then given to adoptive families after filming. (Despite the violence, no dogs were actually harmed.) The movie was a winner at Cannes, taking home the Un Certain Regard award, as well as the "Palm Dog" award. Magnolia released the 2015 Blu-ray, including a behind-the-scenes featurette, interviews with the director and the animal wrangler, plus trailers.

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