“White God”

Go see “White God” as soon as you can, it’s a tour de force of film-making as well as an unsettling parable of our post-human times. It’s about a dog.

My brother called me on my way out the door to see it at IFC–he wanted to tell me funny stories about Luke, his unruly 9-month old Weimaraner, the 8th of these purebred creatures who have wrecked our lives since 1960, when my father acquired one as a hunting dog.

The camera is at dog’s-eye level for most of the running time (and I do mean running), and the alternative angle is the elevated place where the original owner of the benighted dog, a pubescent girl, is learning to play the trumpet, the instrument that heralds the end of days, in a student orchestra.

Every accomplishment of civilization is predicated on a forgotten act of barbarism, to paraphrase Benjamin. No longer. Now see what is done in our name, from the lowly level where the skin is flayed, the blows are felt, the hearts are broken, and the memories might be stored.

It’s Herbert Spencer and Jack London made flesh, but not human. The fittest species survives by hunting down its former masters, tormentors, and keepers, terrorizing a whole city with its uncanny military capacity, outthinking and outflanking every barrier, led by a charismatic mixed breed, the outsider banished by the girl’s father. He’s the dog who–or is it that?–endures because, as the man who trains him to fight in the ring says, “You still have a heart.”

I’ll see it again, as soon as I can recover from this time. The star of the film is played by a real dog named Luke.


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