Whilst dogs are a man’s best friend, they’re often restricted to such fluffy nonsense as Cats & Dogs, Hotel For Dogs or Snow Dogs on the big screen. The most iconic canine appearances have probably come on television from Lassie and The Littlest Hobo. However, there’s also a darker side to their nature. I still have nightmares about Cujo. In Samuel Fuller’s 1982 film White Dog, the titular stray was used as an allegory about racism. In Kornél Mundruczó’s White God there’s a similar analogy, but told in a completely different way.
When Lili (Zsófia Psotta) has to stay with her dad (Sándor Zsótér) she brings her mixed-breed dog Hagen with her. When her dad is told to pay a fine because the pet isn’t a pure Hungarian breed he refuses, abandoning Hagen by the side of the road. Whilst Lili desperately tries to find her dog whilst dealing with the pressures of adolescence, Hagen attempts to survive in a strange environment where he’s become prey.
White God is an indictment on Viktor Orban’s regime in Hungary, where outsiders face persecution. There are some stunning chase scenes and moments of pure beauty, but at times it can be very harrowing to watch. The ending is truly awe-inspiring and a brilliantly executed. White God is a profoundly moving film featuring brilliant central performances from Zsófia Psotta and Luke & Body as Hagen. It’s one of the best films of the year so far.
White God is out in cinemas now.