03rd Aug2015

‘White God’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Zsófia Psotta, Sándor Zsótér, Lili Horváth, Szabolcs Thuróczy, Lili Monori, Gergely Bánki, Tamás Polgár | Written by Kornél Mundruczó, Viktória Petrányi, Kata Wéber | Directed by Kornél Mundruczó

white-god

Some films are hard to classify, they do not want to be stuck in just one genre, and they just want to tell a story. White God is a story that could be described as Homeward Bound with teeth or even The Birds with dogs. In truth, it is a film that shows you the story, and then lets you take from it what you will.

When Lili (Zsófia Psotta) is sent to stay with her father her pet dog and best friend Hagen is thrown out onto the street to fend for himself. Lost and confused he learns to survive, used and mistreated by the humans that he meets, until one day he has enough and decides to lead a band of dogs in a revolution against their oppressors. With Lili still searching for him, what will happen when they finally meet again?

If you wanted to see White God as simply The Birds with dogs, it can be seen that way. This is a film that can easily be seen as a horror; it has that level of brutality in it. I like to see the messages also waiting to be discovered though, if you choose to look for them.

This film is the story of Hagen, though we are somewhat forced into seeing Lili as the main character. If you focus on Hagen though, this becomes a story about oppression and society. Being a mixed breed dog puts him in danger just because it is decided that he doesn’t fit society anymore, you have to be pure breed. With references to Ethnic cleansing, social hierarchy, even his place in a family Hagen is the outcast but he is also a leader. Push a section of society too far and they will fight back, and this is what Hagen symbolises. The fight of the underdog who refused to accept his place in society (or out of it).

We see Hagen put into dog fights, we see the mistreatment by the authorities, and in truth he doesn’t stand much of a chance. Hagen is the hero though, and he fights back. There are even elements of Cujo at times in the way he hunts down the people who have wronged him, and this is because of the use of almost cliché forms of filmmaking. All this works though to create a very effective final confrontation with a level of uncertainty to make you question just how it will go.

While Kornél Mundruczó’s film does have errors and doesn’t really care about reality in the way some situations are handled, he has a vision and for the audience, it is easy to buy into what he is trying to create.

What is also truly impressive is the use of dogs, and with a lack of CGI the fact that so many of the animals are used in the scenes and choreographed in a believable way is truly impressive. The fact that the dog who plays Hagen, Body is so charismatic in his role and is a believable hero is impressive, even when he does bad things that don’t exactly fit the role of the hero.

White God could be called a horror, it could be simply a drama. Most of all though it is a heart-warming tale of two friends who are separated and never give up the fight to find each other. It is a film that looks at conflicts in society and the theme of revolution.

The fact that some of the main characters are dogs, and that these dogs don’t need Disneyesque voices added to get their story across is the most impressive aspect of the film. If White God manages to do anything it will get you thinking, and that is a powerful thing. Unrelenting, violent, but never boring, White God is definitely one to watch.

***** 5/5

White God is out on DVD in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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