by Jason Randall, June 1st 2015
A film by Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó is a masterpiece for many many reasons. Subtle incorporations of Wagnerian mythology into the score and character names. The sheer mass coordination of volumes of actual dog actors with only a few moments of CGI (which I never would’ve noticed had I not read an interview with the director). The range of expressions on the dog Hagen’s face, as well as other canine actors. The list could and should go on. But I’ll refrain for the moment.
White God opens as a family drama about divorce and a lonely isolated girl who must live with her biological father for a period of time. Lili (Zsófia Psotta) and her dog Hagen are forced to part ways when her father abandons Hagen on the streets to avoid the fee Hagen incurs for not being a purebred. Lili makes drastic attempts to be reunited with her best friend, while Hagen is introduced into the brutal world of stray dogs and the cruelty of people towards things they see as inferior.
This film takes a look at classism and racism that many cultures have and are trying to overcome. Sometimes it takes a revolution for this to happen. Seen through the eyes of an innocent girl and an innocent dog who find themselves in selfish, dark places where the people around them do not have their best interest in mind, but their own. It really is a dog eat dog world.
“Everything terrible is something that needs our love.” The quote at the beginning of the film by Rainer Maria Rilke, can be interpreted many ways in the context of this film, enigmatic one can take a variety of stands on the interpretation of the ending of the film. Which can only be discussed after seeing White God. I recommend coffee or a beer after with friends to pick each others brains.
Beautifully shot and wonderfully acted puts this in my top five foreign film of the last decade. Also holding the world record for most dogs used in a feature film at an insane 274, gives White God some serious street credit.
Rated R for violent content including bloody images (towards animals), and language. I highly recommend this gem.