It was just as enjoyable as I expected. I felt involved in the story and found the setting - the Pilbara - fascinating. However, the extra ingredient was seeing how the dogs performed.
Yes, I said 'dogs'. The film-makers have promoted Koko as the star, but it seems likely there would have been more than one dog involved at some level. For one thing, the story covers more than ten years of Red Dog's life, so I presume they had an older dog in some scenes.Surely the producer wouldn't have had all his eggs in one basket by having only one dog starring in the show, when that dog might become ill or suffer some other misadventure.
On the other hand, this interview with Luke Hura, the trainer, suggests that indeed only one dog played the part.
I suspect the emphasis on this one charismatic dog is part of the marketing strategy, and a clever one at that. An Encore article casts a little light onto this strategy.
On marketing the film, Woss planned for television, press, outdoor and a more guerrilla approach. “Have you seen our screen test with Koko? We had two aims with that, to prove Kriv had a sense of humour and that we could get peerformance from the dog without CGI.” It’s had over 100,000 hits on YouTube – where it’s evident marketing began back on 28 July, 2009...I think it's easier to market to dog lovers if we think of Koko as the star, rather than an anonymous group of dogs. Whatever the exact details, the dog or dogs make the film.
If “Australian cinema” has become a genre with a audience reach only so far, Woss knew his reach was further. “I always knew there would be a fanatical hardcore group of people who would watch Red Dog and they were called dog-lovers. If we made a good movie they’d come to support us. They may not be the kind of person to go to the movies regularly but they will go and see Red Dog, more than once.”
On the other hand, everyone seems quite comfortable with the idea that different dogs played Lassie.
I do intend to go and see the film again, because I want to try to distance myself a little from the engrossing story and look at the wonderfully detailed behaviors by Red Dog.
It's the best film I've ever seen for celebrating the way dogs freely choose to live with us. Red Dog never wears a collar, never walks on a leash, is never forced to do what humans demand. Oh, except for one funny scene at the vet, which I'd better not spoil for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet.
He exemplifies the free spirit of the dog.
If you love dogs you must try to see this film.
And if you look at this trailer for the film, you'll notice just near the end that there is another star - Red Cat!
Oh, and here's the above-mentioned 'screen test', which I've posted previously, just in case you missed it. It's wonderful.