Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s audacious drama, about how a young girl’s separation from her dog leads to a full-blown canine uprising, won the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
This staggering vision of dogs driven to rise up against their human masters was a Cannes sensation. Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó was inspired by ‘the extreme right’ and its effort to pass a law that would have levied a heavy tax against mixed dogs, a lesser tax for pedigrees and no tax for Hungarian pedigrees. The filmmakers assure us that their cast of 250 mutts, mostly recruited from pounds, were all placed in good homes at the end of production.
“A fierce and beautiful Hungarian parable about a girl, her dog, and the uprising that’s sparked after they are separated… White God goes from melodrama to hallucination after the girl’s father throws the dog into the streets. As she searches for the male dog, Hagen, he takes up with other strays (including a scene-nipping Jack Russell), escapes from dog-pound baddies and ends up doped up with sharpened teeth in a fighting pit.
The girl is a sweet kid, but White God belongs to its remarkable dogs… Told partly through Hagen’s low-angle point of view, White God initially evokes Black Beauty, as each new adventure becomes a gloss on human cruelty. Yet just as Hagen seems doomed, the story takes a sharp, wild turn when the dogs rise up against their tormentors, toppling the master–slave dynamic… When the dogs break free and run through the streets in White God, demolishing barriers and biting the human hands that have hit them, the movie takes a leap into bold political metaphor, offering up a memorable image of the great unwashed gone (literally) barking mad.” — Manohla Darghis, NY Times