White God, film review: Epic tale has a grittiness you'll never find in any Disney movie

(15) Kornél Mundruczó, 119 mins Starring: Zsófia Psotta, Sándor Zsötér, Lili Horváth
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The Independent Culture

The Hungarian film industry has been in turmoil in recent years. Rambo producer Andy Vajna was appointed film commissioner at the national film fund and assigned to put the industry back in order. He has proved a divisive figure, too populist in his tastes for the old guard, but White God is one of the first batch of features backed by the fund under Vajna's direction. It's a tremendous film, an epic tale about an abandoned dog that has a grittiness, surrealistic imagination and violence you'll never find in any Disney movie.

The film can be read as an allegory about the persecution of the "other" in prime minister Viktor Orban's Hungary, where outsiders are treated as badly as the stray dogs are here; or simply as a White Fang-style story in the vein of Jack London. In the film, a teenage girl whose parents have separated is forced to give up her pet dog Hagen. The dog lives wild on the streets, is treated brutally by humans, who turn it into a fighter, and then leads a canine revolt against the humans.

This is a live-action movie in which the digital effects aren't obvious. Director Kornél Mundruczó's staging of the scenes in which the dogs take to the streets is breathtaking.