A Brief Commentary on 2009’s hidden gem Dogtooth
A film categorized as satire generally goes by the standards of comedy with sarcasm, irony, or even wit. In that case, if one would like to label this as satire it would be that of extreme-satire. Dogtooth centers around a family enclosed within the boundaries of their own home whom never leave nor know of the outside world. The parents of three unnamed children in their late teens and early twenties have performed what many might consider psychological mind tricks on their kids. These parents have convinced their children that certain words mean different things in means of “protecting” their innocence. Only the father gets to leave the premises through means of his car, for the ground is said to be of danger to anyone who has not had their dogtooth come out and regrown.
The cinematography in this film is especially worth noting since it gives a sort of “emotionless” tone, one that parallels that of the family in subject to its setting due to its stationary position inside the borders of the home, but its hand-held rhythm outside of the house. Even the dialogue in this film is cold and stale, giving its audience the feeling of an audiobook playing back its chapters on screen. Also, when analyzing Dogtooth, one can’t help but compare the extremist parents to those who view video games, television, and movies as bad influences on their children in terms of how they grow up and how they view the world. If this film is considered a satire, the ridicule they claim to portray could easily be interpreted to be upon those parents. One must realize that you are not what you have seen, you are you according to how you have been raised.
However intriguing this piece is, Giorgos Lanthimos does a fantastic job in forming an environment of complete control where the audience is released into a fantasy land. The children believe airplanes are the size of one’s fist, cats are monster-like creatures in the prowl for human flesh, fish can magically appear in pools, and mothers can monitor the growth of their babies depending on how well their children behave. Aside from this, we are emotionally distant, however on purpose, from the family. No names are given to the children, with each one being titled in the order they were born in: eldest-youngest. By the end of the film, we are left to ponder wether or not the conditions these parents set for their family was actually enough to restrain the human mind from achieving the curiosity so prevalent in our history.
Thank you for reading,
Omar Antonio Iturriaga