Tue 8 May 2012
Director Giorgio Lantimos‘ film Dogtooth (Kynodontas) is an anti-utopia. It imagines a world that does not exist, with rules and conventions so different from the ones of the society we live in that some of its aspects are shocking. A world governed by an order that kills emotions. A world separated from the real world by physical walls but also by a precipice which is deeper and wider than any physical wall. The material this precipice is made of is money and education.
The family which is in the center of this film is rich. So rich that they can afford that only the father (owner of some manufacturing factory) goes to work, while the wife and the three children – twin girls and a boy, all just out of their teens – stay permanently at home. They seem to have never gone out of the villa they inhabit, they actually believe that the outer world is full of dangers, wild people and animals that just wait beyond the corner to bloodily kill them. Any intruder is considered a mortal danger (be it only a cat) with the exception of one woman brought by the father to satisfy the sexual needs of the growing boy. No contact with the world outside is allowed and in the absence of any information emotions cannot develop, or when they develop they are completely distorted.
It’s no wonder that this film shocked a lot of people, intrigued other and marveled a few. I am in-between the two last categories. There are many cruel and explicit scenes in this film, as the characters develop a set of reactions that is a function of their misreading of the world whenever an intrusion happens, under the form of a forbidden VCR tape (only family tapes are allowed) or of an unlucky animal. The antiseptic atmosphere created inside the perimeter of the villa reminded me Michael Haneke‘s two versions of Funny Games. There are two levels of possible readings of the world created by Lantimos in Dogtooth. One is the social commentary which talks about the extremes of the isolation brought up by money. The other is about the dangers and the spiritual emptiness created by an extreme education that tries to isolate the young souls from the realities of the world. To grow as a full man one needs to have the eyes open to reality.