Dogs like films
The dog film has been enjoying great popularity for decades, and probably not just since “Lassie”. He shines in the cinema as an excellent commissar companion ("Scott & Huutsch", "My partner with the cold muzzle"), tests family skills ("Marley & I"), is considered a warm-hearted child friend ("A dog named Beethoven") and lifesaver in of need ("Benji"). After all, it even stands for romance (“Lady and the Tramp”), friendship (“Cap & Capper”) and a thirst for adventure (“Bolt”).
We have eight more exceptional ones dog films in which dogs play a major role (if not the main role).
1. Underdog (2014)
Kornél Mundruczó's drama about a young girl who goes in search of her abandoned dog Hagen is one of the most extraordinary cinema experiences of recent years. Even the first suggestive scene, when a whole horde of dogs rushes through a deserted street in Budapest, brings back memories of Hitchcock's “The Birds”. And indeed, the trampled and abused creatures try to take revenge on humans here. In his parable on the grievances of (Eastern) European societies, the Hungarian director succeeds with great sensitivity in turning his animal protagonists into authentic actors. Impressive: Computer animation was not necessary for this.
2. Wendy and Lucy (2008)
Wendy (Michelle Williams) is pretty burned down. Together with her dog Lucy, she makes her way to Alaska to find work in a fish factory there. Several coincidences mean that in the end she doesn't even find a roof over her head. After the young woman steals dog food for her loyal companion in a supermarket, she is caught by the police and has to leave Lucy alone. When she returns from the guard, the animal has disappeared. Kelly Reichardt, one of the most talented representatives of the new realism in US cinema, tells of the ashen fringes of American society with her supercooled road movie and illustrates the relationship between humans and dogs in a gentle and illuminating way.
3. Heart Of A Dog (2015)
Laurie Anderson's cinematic essay experimentally combines thoughts about the political and social situation of the present with a captivating meditation on love, life and decay. The focus is not only on her late husband Lou Reed, but also on her mother and her beloved dog Lolabelle. They all died in just a few months in a row. With a thoroughly philosophical seriousness, childhood memories are recalled, anecdotes are told in associative form and apparently without a predetermined goal. The little terrier, who has to prove himself in a fight with falcons and goes blind in old age, becomes a (also animated) symbol for the confusion of life and gives the singer, who also has her music woven in very unpretentiously, the opportunity to learn about Buddhism, To speak of surveillance culture and musical maturation without making it seem strained for a moment. A completely necessary artist film - and the most beautiful declaration of love for a dog that can be imagined.
4. Hachiko (2009)
Of course, Hollywood had to become aware of the story of the Japanese Akita dog Hachiko at some point, as the unconditional loyalty of the four-legged friend, who basically waits for his (already deceased) master at a train station for the rest of his life, is the ideal basis for a tear puller. But in the narration of this true story - with a wonderful Richard Gere in the leading role - Lasse Halström once again proves his talent for sensitive, tragic-comic moments and depicts friendship and warmth, albeit always on the verge of kitsch, so authentically that "Hachiko" has long since become something of an unofficial (pre-) Christmas classic.
5. Amores Perros (2000)
The feature film debut of the now multiple Oscar-winning Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, the adaptation of a novel by Guillermo Arriaga, impresses above all with the shimmering, episodic narrative style that is based on “pulp fiction” and yet pursues a completely different (humanistic) goal. A car accident connects the biographies of Octavio and Susanna, Valeria and Daniel as well as El Chivo and Maru in this story about love, death and the dream of a happy life. The old El Chivo lives with a horde of dogs on the streets of Mexico City and animates them to violent dog fights. These fighting scenes alone have what it takes to go down in film history, as their relentless staging casts a glimpse of a shadowy zone in dealing with loyal four-legged friends, which is characterized by the cultivation of aggression and the submission of animals to human interests.
6. Baxter (1990)
Many films are devoted to the jealousy that also attacks pets when masters are suddenly busy with other things and no longer have time for the pet. But no film has ever done this so overwhelmingly raw and hateful as "Baxter" by Jérôme Boivin. The bull terrier Baxter lives with an older woman and longingly watches a young couple in the neighborhood. While his mistress only seems fixated on her animal and completely isolated from the world, Baxter wants to tear himself away from the restrictive relationship. He causes a fatal accident and actually makes it into the care of the happy couple next door. But when she is expecting a child, the angry four-legged friend tries again to solve the problem with violence. In Germany, the film, which is not always easy to bear, bears the dull title “Bell me the song of death”. But the French version of a novel by Ken Greenhall - carried by the haunted narrative voice of the dog looking for a home - is absolutely no trash, but a bitterly funny farce that leaves you laughing in your throat.
7. Umberto D. (1952)
"Umberto D.", one of the great and last works of art of Italian neorealism, is a precise description of the state of Italy shortly after the Second World War. It shows, divided into several episodes, an excerpt from the life of Umberto D. Ferrari, who goes about his bare everyday life in complete solitude. While hardly anyone is interested in him (even his landlady scolds him with scowl), Umberto at least has his dog Flik, with whom the broken man has a thoroughly friendly relationship. Nevertheless he tries to give the animal a way out of the sadness. He exposes him in the park. But Flik comes back - and Umberto decides to take him with him to death. Vittorio De Sica (“Bicycle Thieves”) outlines all the nuances of human suffering in his tragedy. But the relentless look at the tumbling souls is at the same time characterized by great tenderness and awe of the miracle of love. Even if there is no apparent hope for Umberto, in the last scene we see him playing with his dog in the park.
8. The Dogs Are Going On (1982)
Dogs often appear in animated films and are - whether in "Lady and the Tramp" or in "Pets" - mostly nicely overdrawn or exaggeratedly humanized. Martin Rosen, who in 1978 already adapted "Watership Down" by author Richard Adams to the cinema with both a drawing style and a narrative attitude with maximum seriousness, ventured into a dog film in the 80s that would hardly be suitable for children's eyes. The sense and purpose of animal experiments are criticized with gloomy images. Two dogs tortured in an experimental laboratory, a Labrador and a terrier, manage to escape, but they only fight for survival in the wild because they are no longer used to freedom. But a fox helps them to orientate themselves. But because the false news is circulating that the escaped four-legged friends have the bubonic plague, they are finally hunted down mercilessly. A frightening and melancholy film in which the people as exploiters and aggressors only flit through the picture like dark shadows.
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