Kornél Mundruczó, HUN 2014
Always wondering what a truly pissed-off hound is capable of? In scenes that simply have to be seen to be believed, White God (Fehér isten), the sixth feature by theatre and film director Kornél Mundruczó, leaves little doubt about what stray dogs would wreak upon inhumane mankind, give half the chance. A young teenager, Lili (Zsófia Psotta), is more or less dumped at her slaughterhouse inspector father Dániel’s (Sándor Zsótér) place, together with her dog, Hagen. Since Hagen is not purebred (quite unfortunate in today’s Hungary), he ends up being left behind at the roadside by Dániel, to avoid a hefty fine.
Lili and Hagen’s adventures subsequently unwind before the viewer’s eyes, with Lili searching forlornly for her canine love, while Hagen navigates the mean streets of Budapest with the greatest of difficulties, every pad of a paw viewed through his wary eyes. He becomes acquainted with more and more strays, and together they decide that vengeance will be theirs. What follows is astounding: the cinematography is brilliant, the editing unbelievable, but what really is amazing is how the lead animal trainer, Teresa Ann Miller, managed to coax such performances from dogs who were formerly strays themselves. This allegory of what may happen if you mistreat ‘the other’ is simply stunning. Starring siblings Bodie and Luke as Hagen, together with 225 or so other dogs, who were all given a good home after their stellar performances, White God may not depict dog heaven, but is most certainly a cinematic gem.