White God
August 9, 2015 10:32 PM   Subscribe

How did they get those dogs to do that? "Hundreds of dogs rise up against their oppressors in this visually stunning, one-metaphor-fits-all Hungarian drama... a film featuring 274 dogs, no CGI, and a pair of canine protagonists who consistently out-emote their human co-stars."
posted by kliuless (32 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Terry Gross did a revealing interview with the lead trainer a few weeks ago. I came away with a real respect for her work.
posted by vverse23 at 10:55 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

posted by cleroy at 11:04 PM on August 9, 2015

My most anticipated film of 2015, for reals.
posted by mrdaneri at 11:14 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I saw this in a fun little 14-seat theater in Boston. It's pretty good! It's weird, in that it's constantly presenting itself a Very Serious Art Film about Important Issues, but at the core of it there's a perverse, barely restrained desire to rocket off into crazy b-movie territory. It follows all the standard exploitation film beats too, except instead of a marginalized person at the center of it, it's a marginalized dog. Help me out here, is this the world's first Dogsploitation movie?
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 11:57 PM on August 9, 2015 [8 favorites]

Snuffles was my slave name. You shall now call me Snowball.

(Though seriously, that looks fascinating. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.)
posted by Gordafarin at 1:10 AM on August 10, 2015 [9 favorites]

I assume the title was chosen to gibe this film a nod?
posted by Paul Slade at 5:25 AM on August 10, 2015

Yep, the AV Club link in FPP mentions it. However, they're not too kind in their review of White God.
posted by numaner at 5:28 AM on August 10, 2015

My most anticipated film of 2015, for reals.

I hope whoever is distributing it wherever you are does/did a better job than they did in Canada. I was following their Facebook page and still managed to miss the movie after wanting to see it for months. It came and went without a peep.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:33 AM on August 10, 2015

This post is my first time hearing of this movie. But then again foreign films don't get much attention in my circle of friends until around Oscars time and they've been nominated.
posted by numaner at 5:36 AM on August 10, 2015

One Second Before Awakening, I am curious about the 14 seat theater?
posted by InkaLomax at 5:45 AM on August 10, 2015

InkaLomax, the 14 seat theater I was talking about is the Gold Screen at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. It's sometimes pretty hard to get tickets to films showing in that room, depending on how much demand there is. I failed to get in to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night three times. But it's a cool vibe, nice seats, very intimate.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 7:10 AM on August 10, 2015

I still really liked the movie, but there were a couple of scenes that were supposed to be tense and disturbing where I almost laughed, which would have sucked because we saw it in a very small theater, and we were packed in there pretty tight.

Ultimately, it was really impressive, though, how they managed to get all of those dogs to act out all of those scenes not just without CGI, but without distressing them. They seemed to be having lots of fun.
posted by ernielundquist at 7:38 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

I hope whoever is distributing it wherever you are does/did a better job than they did in Canada.

It's listed in the Sky Store's "New To Rent" section here in the UK. That's the selection of movies Sky+ subscribers with a broadband connection on their satellite box are presented with. How many people will choose it from there in preference to Get Hard or Big Hero 6 remains to be seen.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:08 AM on August 10, 2015

This film is also, downloadable apparently. A friend of a friend told me that.
posted by wyndham at 9:13 AM on August 10, 2015

I watched it this weekend! Wasn't really sure what I was going into but I was on the edge of my seat going "ALL THE DOGGIES ARE RUNNING!" and "OH NO SOMEONE'S HURTING THE DOGGIES!"

Dangerous film to see if you start sobbing when someone does so much as glare at a dog. (Maybe not glare, but you know what I mean.) The only thing keeping me together was the brief mention at the beginning that all the dogs used in the movie were adopted in the end.

Lili's relationship with her dad struck a chord with me too. The arguments and mannerisms were familiar things in my household. (Also on the edge of my seat going "UGH DAD YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.")
posted by erratic meatsack at 9:39 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

It is worthwhile for the last scene alone!

Trigger warning for dog fighting and fight "training" though, such that I could not recommend it to certain people.
posted by sylvanshine at 9:55 AM on August 10, 2015


posted by ignignokt at 10:10 AM on August 10, 2015

Okay, so, I remember there was a site linked to on the blue that rates movies based on how disturbing it is for people who have no tolerance for seeing animals hurt or, worse, killed. Can't find it just now, so:

If possible, without spoiling it for other MeFites, can anyone who's seen this movie tell me if any dogs to which we the audience might form an attachment are dispatched or hurt?

(Literally zero tolerance in my case for this, especially with dogs, but the movie looks interesting; thanks for posting.)
posted by the sobsister at 12:55 PM on August 10, 2015

Where are my testicles, Summer?
posted by phearlez at 12:57 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you have no or low tolerance for seeing dogs getting hurt in a movie, then you should not go see this movie.

Edit: The movie is definitely on the side of the dogs and treats them with more reverence than most of the humans. But there's some rough stuff in there.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2015

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:56 PM on August 10, 2015

But there's some rough stuff in there.

I see what you didn't do there.
posted by phearlez at 2:05 PM on August 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

This might be the website in question
posted by Vibrissa at 2:46 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Vibrissa, that's exactly it. Thank you. You'd think I'd've hit on it by name alone.

And...based on its rating, I'll be giving this one a pass.
posted by the sobsister at 3:54 PM on August 10, 2015

I showed my husband the movie trailer and he already Noped me because he was afraid that dogs would appear to be hurt. So no White God for me at least not until it comes on Amazon.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:06 PM on August 10, 2015

Dog whimpering is also the saddest sound of them all and this movie is full of it.
posted by erratic meatsack at 4:08 PM on August 10, 2015

If anyone is still wondering, on its face, it is very much about cruelty to dogs, and it includes portrayals of injury, cruelty, and death. It's a kind of broadly applicable metaphor for racism and xenophobia, so it's not a feel good movie, despite a couple of isolated scenes that might make it look that way. And it doesn't have a happy ending.

That said, I didn't find the disturbing scenes very convincing, and I enjoyed it mostly for the impressive training and coordination of the dogs. If even thinking about animal cruelty is too much, though, you should take a pass.
posted by ernielundquist at 5:29 PM on August 10, 2015

They didn't use CGI? My mind is blown. Saw this last year at a festival, thought it was great.
posted by Pink Frost at 5:32 PM on August 10, 2015

I saw this at a movie festival in Poland in the winter and it was sold to everyone as a movie about current political situation in Hungary, but viewed from that angle it's a really weak and half-assed commentary. I remember everyone being quite confused. I was surprised to see the thing go so viral this year.

Overall I'd say it's an interesting movie, but stylistically incoherent and not sure of what it would like to say or do with itself. It's almost a case of "well, we're trying to make a movie and we've got all those dogs..."
posted by desultory_banyan at 12:18 PM on August 11, 2015

My wife and I sought out this movie after hearing half of the Terry Gross interview because we really like dogs, and wanted to see some fine dog acting.

I wish I would have researched it beforehand. Interesting film, but seriously, if you have any reservations around animal cruelty, do not watch. It shifts from melancholy drama to practically a horror movie. Lots of violence against dogs and by dogs. My wife had nightmares.
posted by team lowkey at 1:11 PM on August 11, 2015

I had heard about this film long before I saw it and was really looking forward to it, but unfortunately I heard the Terry Gross interview with animal trainer Teresa Ann Miller before I saw it this weekend, which I do not recommend. The reason I'm warning you off the interview (the first link in the post) is for the following two reasons (Spoiler alerts ahead):

First, the main dog character (Hagen) is actually played by two different dogs who are brothers. Body (pronounced Bodie) and Luke, both of whom were adopted by Miller (the trainer) after the shooting. If I didn't know that, I probably never would have noticed that one of them had a bit more black fur on his back than the other. I could totally tell when they switched dogs.

Second, the dog fighting scene is actually an artfully cut dog playing scene with lots of fake blood, makeup and excellent sound effects of crazy, angry dogs. The sound effects were created by two humans in a sound studio, BTW.

In fact, a lot of scenes were not what they seemed because of sound effects, not CGI. The scene where Hagen comes across the fly covered carcass of a dog used a prop that wasn't actually covered with flies. There were no flies on it at all. The sound of flies buzzing was very effectively used to make you think it wasn't a prop and was covered in flies.

All that said, it's worth seeing. It's a very affecting film that works on a crazy number of levels. How we treat animals isn't its only theme, just the most obvious. I couldn't help but see a lot of references to the Nazi occupation of Hungary in WWII. And the ending of the film is indeed extraordinary. I doubt the use of Wagner's Tannhäuser was arbitrary.

The director has said that the film's title comes from a line in J.M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace, "We are the White Gods," but I've searched through the book and haven't found it, so maybe it's only in the Hungarian translation.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:05 PM on August 11, 2015

« Older ArchiveReady: website archivability evaluation...   |   "The men in this town have a serious case of pussy... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments