MovieChat Forums > White DogĀ (1982) Discussion > One of the best american films of the 80...

One of the best american films of the 80's


Don't you think?

I watched it last night on Blu Ray and wow, powerful stuff from beginning to end!

Fuller's direction is brillant and inventive (his camera work only creates the story and tension without words!), the screenplay is clever and daring, Ennio Morricone's music is fabulous and the performances very good, especially from the touching Kristy McNichol and Paul Winfield.
And the ending is terrific, unforgettable...a powerful, heartbreaking movie.


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I thought it was terrible overall. Bad acting, cliched scenes, one dimensional characters and a dramatic score that made the whole dilm over wrought.

The closing moments and final shot, which pans out, was good as was meeting the dog's owner. But that's it.

A bird sings and the mountain's silence deepens.

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I agree the film is powerful at points, but the script is just awful.

The ending, to me, makes no sense.

Read the book, and you'll see how badly Fuller messed up.

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I haven't read the book but it is said to be very diffrent from the movie, Fuller himself said that he didn't like the novel's ending because it was somewhat racist, what the dog's trainer made of the dog at the end of the story..

The end of the movie is deliberately "ambiguous", the idea behind it is that you can fight against racism but the overall violence and hatred remains in you, humain being or animal.
The final scene is heartbreaking in my opinion, what a loss of innocence for every character involved...

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Well, Fuller was in a poor position to judge, since the NAACP condemned his film. He threw the two black representatives from that group off his set. He and he alone, it seems, had the right to decide what was racist or not. There's nothing racist, btw, in showing that some black people hate white people because of the way they've been treated. That's a simple statement of fact.

The end of the movie isn't ambiguous--it's confused. There's a difference. And it's a lie. The dog both stories were based on learned to love black people--whether he was retrained to be aggressive towards whites or not is impossible to say.

I just walked out of the theater feeling that Fuller totally blew it.

Then I read the book, and saw what a powerful film he could have made. You know, we can't really have a discussion of book vs. film if you haven't read the book.

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I say that the end is ambiguous (maybe it is not the right word?) because we don't really know why the dog attacked Carruthers, it's left up to the viewer..my opinion is that it is a symbolic ending:
despite all his good will Keys terribly failed because the dog's impulses were stronger than his "reason"...Keys says that he tried to cure "white dogs" before the last one, but each time he failed, because the minds of these dogs snapped...and this happens one more in the film's ending.



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Yes, but again, that's crap. It would not happen in reality. Dogs don't 'snap' just from being reconditioned. The reconditioning might fail--and btw, the training methods used in both the book and film are inhumane and wrong and pointless--you don't retrain a dog by beating him up--but since the Keys in the movie is a heroic figure, they can't just say "He's torturing a poor animal to get even with all the white people who have been racist to him." The trainer in the book is a much more complex character. For all Winfield's artistry, he can't make the character in the movie make sense. How are we supposed to see this as a good man? He caused a black man's death, and then went right on doing what he was doing. Then he shot the dog the moment it attacked a white man.

Sorry, but you can't talk endlessly about 'the filmmaker's intentions', without at least addressing the issue of whether he knew what he was talking about. He didn't.



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"Yes, but again, that's crap. It would not happen in reality. Dogs don't 'snap' just from being reconditioned."

It's a movie clyons!
There a "suspension of disbelief" needed...i'm not sure that "pure reality" was Fuller's intent (if so, he would have shown the police's investigation after the two murders, for example), his aim was more the metaphore, the fable, in my opinion.

"the training methods used in both the book and film are inhumane"

But that's also an interesting part of the story, don't you think?
There's an ambiguity, like in "A clockwork orange"...maybe the trainer is "as violent" as the dog's owner. The dog's owner used violence towards the dog and Keys in some ways uses violence too.
In the Kubrick movie Alex is violent but they use another kind of violence to recondition him...there's ambiguity, like in "White dog".

"How are we supposed to see this as a good man? He caused a black man's death, and then went right on doing what he was doing"

His character has an ambiguous side, for sure. Obssessed, maybe blinded, by his goal, like the dog.

"Sorry, but you can't talk endlessly about 'the filmmaker's intentions', without at least addressing the issue of whether he knew what he was talking about. He didn't."

Like for all the movies or books, it's just my feelings and thoughts, my point of view about a story:
I haven't read many Fuller's interviews about the film, but these are my feelings when i watch this film, like you have your own!

I just know that Gary was a friend of Fuller and that Fuller wasn't convinced by the novel's ending, or at least the ending of the first screenplay lifted from Gary's novel:

SPOILER

the trainer training the white dog to attack white people.

According to Fuller, Hollwyood was a bit afraid to adapt the novel because of the issue of the novel's/first screenplay's ending.




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"What works in books is not always what resonates in films"!:

http://cinemaphile2010.blogspot.fr/2014/12/lessons-from-criterion-white-dog-by.html



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True, and it would have been pretty much impossible to adapt the novel 100% faithfully--it would be too long.

Gary's book is not mainly about the dog--it's mainly about racist humans. The dog is the victim. They couldn't put everything in a film adaptation, but they could have stuck to the main details of the plot involving the dog, and it would have been a much better film, and a much more powerful statement on racism.

This film is a failure, and I had not read the book when I saw it. So I was judging it in its own right. And in its own right, it's a complete failure--as a film, and as an attack on racism. It is, in fact, racist.

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How can the film be a failure if it continues to impress and affect people? Also, how exactly is the film "racist"? And no, I haven't read the book, so please leave that out of the equation.

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