White God (15)

Directed by Kornel Mundruczo
Picturehouse, Liverpool
From 6th March 2015

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is considered to be a political allegory or a parable about the downtrodden and disenfranchised of Europe, via levying a tax on dog owners of mixed breed canines or else they will be sent to a dog's home, and then be slain, but I did not view it that way.

Surely it is not meant to be an allegory of Jews being sent to concentration camps to be disposed of! That would be trite.

In essence it is about an abandoned dog and its transformation into a savage canine, brought about by people's inhumanity towards the creature.

The other major problem I have with director Kornel Mundruczo's purpose in making the film is to mirror the distress felt by both the dog, Hagen, and its thirteen-year-old owner Lili (Zsofia Psotta), after her loveless dad Daniel (Sandor Zsoter) ejects the dog from his car and leaves him forlorn and abandoned on the streets of Budapest. Their individual plights do not compare at all.

He is left to scavenge for food and then be brutalised by men through various gut-wrenching methods, including being forced to compete in an organised dog fight.

Lili is a middle-class kid, who plays sax in a youth orchestra, and partakes in twee coming -of-age scenarios, has a spat with the leader of the orchestra, as well as a few moody encounters with Daniel.

After Hagen ferociously attacks one of the keepers at a dog shelter, it results in a mass horde of dogs escaping onto the streets, creating panic among the populace, with the police resorting to shooting some of them.

Amid the gruesome scenes of slaughter enacted on the animals - assurances have been given that none of the dogs involved were actually harmed - there are a number of beguiling shots, including one of Budapest at night, as seen through the eyes of Hagen and his dog companion looking down from a hill.

The scenes of the dogs rampaging through the city was brilliantly directed, thanks to dog handlers/trainers Arpad Halasz and Teresa Ann Miller.

Following an awe-inspiring final sequence of the movie, the closing credits list the names of over 200 dogs that took part. Previously housed in dog shelters, all of them have now found new homes.

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