White God places young Lili (Zsófia Psotta) in the worst place possible – stuck right inbetween two warring, divorced parents. Her mother (Lili Horváth) is working away for the next three months so she’ll have to stay with her overly-strict father (Sándor Zsótér).
He doesn’t like dogs and is also not automatically allowed to keep them in his flat, so where does that lead Hagen (played by two canine characters, Luke and Body)? Well, with Daddy too skint to pay for a dog licence, and the dog unable to keep quiet – despite the girl’s best efforts to calm him down with her trumpet playing, thus begins a discussion about the thorny issue of paying to put him in an animal shelter, or worse – leave him out on the streets because her father’s a complete dick. Yes, it’s not looking good for ol’ Rover, as he’s put out to run with all the other strays, leaving Lili determined to track him down at any cost.
They say never work with children or animals, and that’s what director Kornél Mundruczó is doing for both, here, but in Zsófia Psotta and both Luke and Body, he gets the best out of all of them.
Thankfully, this is not Disney’s The Incredible Journey. An early part of it would work for children, where Hagen is seen running around town with other mutts, avoiding dog-catchers, but not the swearing in those scenes (from humans), nor any of the intensely dark moments depicted, some involving animal cruelty and even worse, although it’s obvious to state that no dogs were harmed in the making of this film – something which is stated at the start of the film, and which Mark Kermode has confirmed , is something that the BBFC always look into.
Until I saw the extras, I couldn’t work out how old Lili is meant to be. She looks about 12, but fancies a lad called Peter who’s way too tall to be that age, and she also ends up in a nightclub drinking vodka, so I presumed around 15. Apparently, Lili *is* 12, so their nightclubs must have a very relaxed admissions policy!
There’s also a bit of fantasy storytelling thrown in, in that dogs can apparently hold grudges, which led me to think of the shark in Jaws IV: The Revenge, as it heads off to track down Ellen Brody (Lorraine Gary), although, obviously, this is a considerably better movie!
Note that if subtitled movies aren’t really your bag, then White God is one of the most accessible films out there, since there are a number of scenes solely featuring dogs, and they don’t tend to have a great deal of dialogue. Hence, this one is a good one with which to start, and could well end up in my Top 10 of the year, partly because it’s a great film and partly because when you see the scenes featuring dogs on their own, it feels like the director has conveyed his message to them better than Doctor Doolittle!
The film is presented in the original widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and in anamorphic widescreen, and the picture is fine, but when you’re normally used to Blu-rays, DVDs look a little soft by comparison, especially on a 50″ plasma screen. The sound is in Dolby Digital 5.1 and works best for some tension-filled moments as well as some scenes with music. The rest of the time, it’s drama with dialogue and ambience.
The extras are as follows:
- Behind The Scenes (16:38): The crew talk about how filming with lots of dogs didn’t present the difficulties that they thought it might. This piece is mostly in Hungarian with burnt-in English subtitles, but one of the trainers is American and speaks in English, so her segments aren’t subtitled (although like a lot of Arrow’s foreign releases, including The Saboteurs, even when there’s English spoken, there’s still no reason not to subtitle these too, since some people rely on them).
- Deleted Scenes(8:38): Five of them here. Out of these, I’d put the third one back in, and I won’t say what they’re about as they tie into the film, obviously, and I don’t want to give you spoilers.
There are only a mere 12 chapters, subtitles are in English and the menu mixes the opening from the film with a piece of its music.
White God is out now on DVD, but like Mommy, there is no Blu-ray release. That feels like a mis-step as it’s a fantastic film and would really benefit. Yes, cost vs quantity sold may be an issue, but the US version can be imported on Blu-ray through Amazon.co.uk here. Also, check out the full-size cover by clicking on the packshot.
Running time: 117 minutes
Released: August 3rd 2015
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 Anamorphic widescreen
Disc Format: DVD9
Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Producers: Eszter Gyárfás and Viktória Petrányi
Screenplay: Kornél Mundruczó, Viktória Petrányi and Kata Wéber
Music: Asher Goldschmidt
Lili: Zsófia Psotta
Hagen: Luke and Body
Dániel: Sándor Zsótér
Elza: Lili Horváth
Bev: Lili Monori
Dog-catchers: Gergely Bánki, Tamás Polgár
Music teacher: László Gálffi
Péter: Károly Ascher
Neighbour: Erika Bodnár
Woman with bag: Virág Marjai
Old man: Szabolcs Thuróczy
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.