“SOCRATES: Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets… men [pass] along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
GLAUCON: You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
SOCRATES: Like ourselves…”–Plato, The Republic, Book VII
DIRECTED BY: Giorgos Lanthimos
FEATURING: Christos Stergioglou, , Hristos Passalis, Mary Tsoni, Michele Valley, Anna Kalaitzidou
PLOT: A Father and Mother raise their three children—two girls and a boy, aged somewhere between their late teens to twenties—in an isolated country estate with no knowledge of the outside world. The children spend their days playing odd games, engaging in strange family rituals, or learning new words with incorrect definitions; they are taught that “sea” means an armchair, a “motorway” is a strong wind, and so on. The one outsider they know of is Christina, who Father brings in weekly to satisfy Son’s sexual urges; inevitably, she discloses facts about the outside world that disrupt the family’s artificial harmony.
- Winner of the “Un Certain Regard” prize (which recognizes works that are either “innovative or different”) at Cannes in 2009.
- Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2011 (only the fifth Greek film so honored).
- According to writer/director Lanthimos, the three actors who played the children got into character by inventing games (like the “endurance” game the kids in the film play) to pass the time.
- Mary Tsoni, who plays the younger daughter, was not an actress prior to this role; she was a singer in a band.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Dogtooth is a movie made more from concepts than from imagery. Most likely, the scene that makes the biggest impression is the one that best encapsulates the family’s strange rituals. To celebrate their parent’s wedding anniversary, the two girls perform an awkward, shuffling dance, as invented by two children who have no knowledge of choreography, while their brother accompanies them on guitar. After the younger girl bows out, the rebellious older one begins throwing her body around with bizarre, manic abandon, until her parents object to this display of individuality.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Beginning with the conceit that the meanings of ordinary words have been changed, Dogtooth presents us with an unsettling vision of an “ordinary” family where the basic rules of social behavior have all been unpredictably altered, for reasons that can only be guessed at.
Original trailer for Dogtooth [Kynodontas]
COMMENTS: “Dogs are like clay, and our job here is to mold them,” the dog trainer explains to Continue reading 79. DOGTOOTH [KYNODONTAS] (2009)