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'White God' movie review -- 3 stars

Zsófia Psotta in “White God.

Zsófia Psotta in “White God." Photo Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Some movies demand the behind-the-scenes documentary treatment. "Apocalypse Now" famously generated "Heart of Darkness." Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" led to the excellent "Burden of Dreams."

"White God," a Hungarian picture about a canine uprising that won a top prize at the Cannes Film Festival last year, is another movie that simply requires an explanatory documentary.

That's because filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó employed real dogs, hundreds of them, to stage the dramatics here, as a pack decides it is fed up with mistreatment by humankind and strikes back.

This is fascinating to watch on a purely elemental level, as Mundruczó employs creative smoke-and-mirrors to make once cute dogs seem like menacing terrors. It's an enormously audacious work, and that audacity should be celebrated, even if the movie is often defined by the technique.

If "White God" doesn't quite register as immersive cinema, that's only because it's so hard to stop thinking about the magnitude of this difficult achievement. The apocalyptic vision is mostly limited to an extended climax, as the dogs finally grow tired of their overlords. The scale is conveyed through impressive crane shots and a keen sense of coordinated chaos, but the story ultimately matters much less than the astoundingly original conceit.


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