Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Red Dog

Penny stayed at home while I went to see the Australian movie 'Red Dog' today.

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...

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.”
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.

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.


Honey the Great Dane said...

OOh - great post! Paul & I were just talking about hearing about this film - so this was really timely! I watched the trailer yesterday (and yes, noticed the cat at the end!) - and I have to admit, in a lot of scenes was thinking more of the animal wrangling aspects than the story! Sounds great - must try to go watch it. The only thing that worries me about films like this is the backlash now with every ignorant person/family rushing out to get a kelpie - based on the cute antics in this movie - and of course, they're a high-energy, demanding breed like the Border Collie - not ideal, I think, for the average urban family. That's always the problem with any film that makes a dog a star, I think - unless the dog's a mongrel!


parlance said...

Hsin-Yi, I agree about the danger of people rushing out to buy a certain breed of dog (or fish, after 'Finding Nemo'). I feel a little less worried about this one, though, because the point of the film was the free life of the dog. He wasn't your average 'domesticated' dog.

Anonymous said...

Just watched the movie "Red Dog." Finally, a movie worth watching! It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a good movie. I'm a cat person and was glad to see the friendship develop between red dog and red cat.

parlance said...

Hi, anonymous
It was great to see a movie that didn't go overboard at making the dog super cute. Red Dog was a true-blue dog, independent and self-reliant. (I do have a teensy suspicion they put the part in about Red Cat to make human car people happy, lol.)