White God Woofolution
Equite the same day as White God’s Hagen, who leads the dogs of Budapest in an uprising against humanity – a comment, director Kornél Mundruczó says, on rising intolerance in Eastern Europe. “This film is about minority. Not just about dogs as a minority but using them as a metaphor for the way we treat gypsies and Jews in Hungary. In the last ten years, with the rise of the extreme right, Europe has started to forget and repeated the same stories somehow. This film is repeating something that happened already but in a different form. It’s very dangerous to forget our history.”
Hagen, played by canine twins Luke and Body, gets separated from his 14- year- old owner Lili ( Zsófia Psotta) after her dog- hating father throws him out. It is a film of “many genres” according to Mundruczó, but is divided into two sections. The first is that of Hagen’s harsh time on the streets, where he and other hungry stray dogs are pursued by catchers, before Hagen himself is forced into the cruel world of dog fighting – a traumatic experience that ends up twisting his sweet nature.
All of which, of course, is delivered with kitchen- sink reverence. But that’s before Hagen, pushed to the brink by humanity, ignites a dog pound into a full- on pulp- horror revolution – complete with paw prints of blood and “he’s behind you!” scares. It’s a chaotic sequence that, Munduczó says, was inspired by childhood favourite Jurassic Park and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
To visualise such a revolution, however, Mundruczó had to direct with a record- breaking 254 dogs throughout White God – all of which won it the alternative “Palm Dog Prize” at Cannes last year.
“It required a lot of patience,” he laughs. “We shot 55 days but I think 40 of those were just with the dogs. Like, there was one shot where all the dogs are meant to be breaking out of a dog pound and it was perfect but then there was just this one dog who decided to stay back. There was a lot of that. I think we have 250 hours of material for a two- hour film!”
Directing kids: easier than directing dogs.
A girl and her dog.
Our money’s on number six.