Today: April 12, 2024

Red Dog

Directed by Kriv Stenders, Red Dog is based on a true story – and this just makes it all the more heart-warming and inspirational.

Directed by Kriv
Stenders, Red Dog is based on a true story – and this just makes it all the
more heart-warming and inspirational.

It is based on the book by Louis
de Bernières
(he who wrote Captain Corelli’s Mandolin) which relays the
legendary true story of Red Dog and how he became famous for wandering across
the entire north west of Australia in search of his master.

It is 1971 in Dampier, a mining town in Western Australia
and a newcomer in town enters the local bar to find all the locals gathered in vigil
at the side of a dying dog. From
here the locals tell him the story of Red Dog, the dog of their community and
how he came to be famous and enrich each of their lives. Upon joining the community after
meeting barkeep Jack Collins (Noah Taylor)
and his wife on the open road, Red is adopted by everyone in town, wanders
feely amongst them and assists each of them in their lives in an individual
way. It is only when John Grant (Josh Lucas) comes to town to become the
mining company bus/truck driver that Red decides that John is his true master.

Not much of the film is taken up by Red’s adventures in the
outback spanning three whole years.
Instead it focuses on his effect on each member of the mining community,
with the story told in a series of flashbacks. This actually works well as it helps us get to know the
characters and adds a lot of comedy value. This film really separates itself from others of a similar
genre. It is simultaneously heart
wrenching and hilarious like Marley and
Me
and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, but never gets too
involved in cliché like Lassie Come Home
or The Littlest Hobo and goes so far
as to mock these types of ‘dog movies.’
It is never made obvious whether this is a film for children or
adults. It really comes across as
a quirky family film with a nice love story tied in. There is some darn good comedy in Red Dog, one particular
moment being Red Dog’s showdown with Red Cat, who is described as ‘a destroyer
of many pooches’ and ‘a dark and sinister force.’ Even amongst the sad parts of the tale it still finds time
to incorporate the time honoured war between cat and dog: ‘Good versus evil, civilisation versus
chaos, doggy do versus cat poo.’

Red’s relationship with John is a true ‘man’s best friend’
one and although clichéd with home movie flashbacks, it is actually quite
sweet. It tells us that ‘The world
is a funny place . . . sometimes you pick your dog, sometimes your dog picks
you.’ Lucas’ performance as John
is simple, but very believable as is Rachael
Taylor
’s performance as love interest, Nancy. Koko the dog as
Red is outstanding, his performance leading him to win Best Dog in a Foreign
Film at the Golden Collar Awards 2012. His quirky expressions give him real
personality and he can stand with pride against the likes of Uggie, canine star of The Artist.

Red Dog has deservedly won numerous awards including Best
Film at the Inside Film Awards
(along with six others) and Best Picture from the Inaugural Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts 2012. If you are even remotely moved by the
story of Greyfriars Bobby, or indeed
if you have ever owned a dog, then this one will rip your heart out in a way
only a story like this can. But
whilst it is desperately sad, it is also uplifting. It shows how having a dog can be an education and a joy,
with one dog enriching the lives of so many lonely working men and bringing
them together as a community. Be
prepared to cry your eyes out but do not let this deter you from watching as
this film is a real treasure.

Misha Wallace - Social Media Editor

From the age of 4, Misha Wallace became transfixed by movies like Halloween and The Birds from behind the couch, unbeknownst to her family. This has developed in to an obsession with fantasy and horror films (and a considerable number of cheesy 80s and 90s flicks – but she will not be judged). If she was a character in a film she'd be the girl at the end of a horror movie, doused in blood but grinning victorious. Email: misha.wallace@filmjuice.com or find her any time of the day or night on FilmJuice social media.

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