White God Screen 21 articles

White God

2014

White God Poster
  • Immediately after seeing Kornél Mundruczó’s Budapest-set canine rebellion picture White God, I thought that I had merely seen a bad movie, though in the days afterwards it occurred to me that perhaps a sly political metaphor was at work in the film, and my opinion began to shift. To wit, I am now convinced that it is an utter and complete piece of irredeemable, self-important feculence.

  • Its sole point of interest is its use of real dogs at the climax, which isn't remotely scary (Mundruzcó has no feel whatsoever for horror) but does at least represent an impressive feat of screw-you-CGI logistics. And then he goes and ruins that by using said climax, which should arise out of nowhere, as a surreal flash-forward "grabber" at the outset, a ploy that smacks of bad television.

  • Rise of the Planet of the Pooches? Canine rebellion at the end adds a bit of oomph to this dirtied-up Disney adventure - the dogs were "like a well-organised army," says an excitable commentator - even if it's no more convincing than the rest of it. Looks like all the energy went into logistics (that final shot!), leaving everything - the dog-fights, the escape from the pound, the cross-cutting between girl and dog (showing what? their unwitting corruption?) - a bit half-baked and surface-level.

  • White God is riddled with messages — though the surface message, "be kind to animals, or else,” is more potent than any of this film's allegorical ones. Putting animals who stand for human groups together with real human characters confuses the issues. White God wants audiences to be moved because stray dogs are persecuted like homeless people. But viewers are prodded to despise the one actual street person in the movie for taking advantage of a dog.

  • Well-intentioned but deeply flawed, White God jettisons a nation’s complex history of conquest and miscegenation—not to mention any tangible link to actual legislation or government action that would or might incite social protest—in order to craft an essentialist parable about how some breeds have fetched the short end of the stick.

  • White God (dedicated to Miklós Janscó, who might have chuckled) is a tonal mess: part children’s film, part horror film, mashing up Amores perros (2000), Jack London’s White Fang, and Lassie Come Home (1943) in fitfully enjoyable but rather ridiculous fashion, especially as it reaches the Planet of the Apes-like Grand Guignol climax.

  • Kornél Mundruczó's fable of liberation and redemption is far less distinctive than its high-culture trappings might indicate, an amorphous allegory that's part canine spin on Hitchcock's The Birds, part art-house Benji, never moving past a basic conception of animals as adorable, attention-grabbing blank-slate symbols.

  • If the canine rebellion—with unleashed dogs flooding the city’s abandoned boulevards, leaping through the air, punching their human masters in the face with their own faces—comprised more than about ten minutes of its runtime, Mundruczó’s Disney-grade screenwriting would ring less obvious. That the film is a parable for illegal immigration (a tectonic issue in contemporary Hungarian politics) can’t excuse its heavy-handedness; in many ways, it makes it an even further-missed opportunity.

  • The words “release the hounds” take on vibrant new meaning in “White God,” a thrillingly strange update of the “Lassie Come Home” formula... The sixth and best feature to date from distinctive Hungarian stylistKornel Mundruczo, “White God” initially looks to be a sizable departure from his previous work, with its appealingly naive adventure narrative, until the story’s mythic proportions, not to mention its visceral violence, reveal themselves.

  • ...I am still bewitched, two days after the screening; it’s the most surprising film I can remember seeing at Cannes... White God confirms Mundruczó’s position as one of Europe’s most exciting, unpredictable and technically competent directors. In a world where so many filmmakers seem to rework the same material over and over, he’s is a true wild card – a filmmaker with ‘un certain regard’ if ever there was one.

  • "White God" mainly impresses with its amazing, large-scale animal work, particularly a sequence depicting a large pack of dogs' bloody escape from a shelter.

  • Mundruczó dedicates the film to camera-movement virtuoso Miklós Jancsó, who would have approved of the improvised handheld work of cinematographer Marcell Rev as he races after the dogs.

  • The God of this film might have a dog’s muzzle, but in the light of current political turmoil in Hungary—and throughout Europe—it becomes a compelling and persuasive, unsettling political metaphor.

  • One of the movie’s strengths is that, like Balthazar, it recognizes its hero’s dead-end status as a protagonist; there’s a limit to how much access any film could have to whatever Hagen’s “inner life” might be... [But] if White God is a sympathetic movie in principle—an invitation for us to take responsibility for creating our monsters—it’s less sympathetic in practice, if only because of the leering, vindictive perspective it adopts for the dogs’ climactic onslaught.

  • DP Marcell Rev does a superb job of filming around the unwatchable, as well as directly on the enormous pack of racing animals that overwhelm Budapest without the benefit of CGI.

  • White God is a symphony of emotion, at once succeeding as drama, revenge, and adventure film, in chronicling Hagen’s journey to rebellion. Mundruczó sets his moral tale against the backdrop of a mutating Eastern Europe, in which the tensions created by capitalist and nationalist tendencies reinforce the social divides.

  • The humans are out-acted by the dogs, who are emotionally compelling even when quietly watching a Tom and Jerry cartoon while waiting to be put down. At the climax, 250 pups storm the streets in a shot that recalls the rebooted Planet of the Apes. Amazingly, there's no CG. When the violence gets unbearable, take comfort in the troop of trainers on the sidelines who prove that, for now, man and beast still make a good team.

  • “White God” has been compared to “The Birds,” but there are also echoes of “Lassie Come Home” and even “Dirty Harry.” Director Kornél Mundruczó goes big with allegory, violence, drama and sentiment, and the results are riveting.

  • The brutality of the training, which culminates with an ugly fight that’s a frenzy of slamming bodies, ominous growls and bloodied muzzles, isn’t for the weak of heart. But these scenes represent movie sleight of hand at its finest, as do the sequences of Hagen making like Jason Bourne while escaping pound workers, hurtling down alleys, darting around corners, racing across terraces and even bursting through an apartment window into the lap of its understandably surprised inhabitant.

  • Although the simple plot is articulated with great clarity, this is mainly a film of moments. And what moments! Mundruczó's and his cinematographer Marcell Rev shoot Lili and Hagen's story with a documentary-like immediacy, following much of the action with a handheld widescreen camera that's often placed at ground level, the better to show harsh urban landscapes through a dog's eyes.

  • After making a few little-seen, little-appreciated art films (including “Delta” and “Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project”), Hungarian auteur Kornel Mundruczo delivered a work of hard-hitting provocation and startling violence that suggested we may have a new (ahem) Peckinpaw on our hands.

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