Kornél Mundruczó’s animal fable ‘White God’ depicts the stray dogs of Budapest rising up against their human tormenters after putting up with one too many abuses. The film was clearly made by dog lovers: Mundruczó shoots often from his canine stars’ eye level and allows them to band together in a kind of squatters’ community on an abandoned lot. When they rebel, the language of Cinema Apocalyptica – empty streets, people falling over each other in their mad rush to escape, wind howling through hastily made barricades – emboldens their cause. Nevertheless, the film shows dogs being shot, drugged, and tortured for sport, making a mockery of DoesTheDogDie.com.
The more Mundruczó pushes his film beyond the realm of a simple animal tale, the more distracting the animals become. This is most apparent in the climactic canine rebellion, which includes several eerie shots of dog armies perfectly poised for battle in the streets. It’s an experience unlike any other animal scene on film. But it’s obviously manmade, the product of human minds capable of spatial reasoning and a sense of artistry. The trainers must have expended tremendous effort to manipulate and regiment the dogs so as to fool the audience into thinking they had organized themselves, and not all would have fallen in line right away. So what happened to the ones who dared rebel? And what is an animal triumph over humans worth if the humans have to first triumph over the animals to depict it?
The Young Critics Workshop is organized in cooperation with Photogénie.