Dogtooth

Dogtooth ★★★★

There're some spoilers here, so watch out.

Exploring emotional and thematical landscapes delineated by Greek director can become harrowing experience to anyone ill-prepared for such a task. If any movie needs trigger warnings at the beginning (I don't really like trigger warnings, although they have some utility; but it is not topic of this note) this one - Dogtooth - is clear contender to be the movie, that needs one. It is fascinating movie; it is difficult movie; it is thematically rich movie. There are many ideas and themes in here, that deserve to be bisect and took under our "textual microscopes".

But because I know, that I'm not the best equipped guy to make true in-depth analyses, I will only give here three starting points for some interesting (in my opinion) exploration of Dogtooth. Let's be honest, if you watched this movie, you should at least try to make some sense out of it.

1. Λόγια - έννοια - εξουσία.

One thing, that I knew about the movie before screening, was an idea of children deliberately taught wrong meaning of the words by their parents. This is how the world of this movie looks like; it depicts a family in which the salt shaker is called a "phone" and the very concept of a phone (for children not parents!) does not exist at all. We all know that "words have power" and to name something - to give something sense - it is to have power. Words - sense - power, that reminded me of something; of Adam giving names to all things in the Garden; of idea of "subduction of the Earth".

To make biblical connection to Dogtooth is a tempting reading; many ideas seems almost obvious: family's garden can be seen as Garden of Eden, father as Father, even video tapes become the thing, that unravels the whole "paradise" - they become the Fruit.

But we all see, that Lanthimos' house isn't paradise. It's a kennel for Children raised by wolves.

2. Kennel or Yorgos' policing of human bodies.

Biopolitics of Dogtooth is another fascinating dimension of this story. People and their bodies are subjects of constant behavioral training (I really wish I could use here word from my first language - tresura, which is used almost exclusively to mean animal training). Social interaction of Children are reduced to two actions. One of them are "games of endurance" - challenges (often involving pain) both imposed by Parents and designed by Children themselves. I can't shake the impression that they never learned anything else, it's their whole perspective - interaction seen as a challenge. This creates skewed environment where bodies and sexuality are distorted, striped of any positive meaning, just like some words used in the house.

What is the worst you can do to someone? To make them policing themselves. Absolute rule over someone's body. And maybe even someone's soul?

3. Airplane on the driveway.

This point is a bit different and for me the most surprising way to read Dogtooth. What will happen, if we try to look at the movie as a critique of industrialization, labour relations and class society. It's not so far fetched as it seems. In 2nd point I wrote that Children's interaction are reduced to two actions and now I will write about the second one. They are trading; anytime they want something from each other is framed in the context of trade, everything is commodified. Then we remember, that their Father is a factory's owner (probably). He taught them realities of market, then everything is "on market". Strange challenges required of Children can be seen as Graeber's bullshit jobs. In this case design specially to bid one Child against other; when "employees" fight among themselves, they don't fight "employer" - class politics 101. All of this is somewhat amplified by fact, that Greece was known for its paternalistic labour relations, maybe that's why movie is set in 80. or early 90.. For some reason Lanthimos made a decision to set this movie in short range past.

There's one more thing I would point out in this subsection. It's this antagonism against nature, extreme reliance on technology (not literally - the garden symbolizes safe, technology driven world, outside is untamed.* *cool, another animal training connotation). At least for me it is depicted the best by Father using his car for retrieving toy plane from the driveway - I know that such reading goes a bit contrary to text of the movie, but it is a brilliant subtext in my opinion.

PS One more "loose" idea: video tapes can also be seen as a foreign influence (cultural? socio-economic?), that destroys "serenity" of the house. New ideas are spreading, old ways are in danger. It is funny, that Lanthimos uses here exclusively American blockbuster movies, I wonder why? :P

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