15 July 2005 | laszlo-11
Sometimes the harshest subjects require a no-holds-barred approach; whether you care to take the journey is your decision
As someone who was raised to abhor racism & any discrimination for that matter, maybe there is some truth to the idea that a person's beliefs (whether questionable or not) all begin with how they are raised. This could very well transfer to the animal kingdom if WHITE DOG is any indication.
Just from reading the synopsis of the film, I was prepared for a movie that would not be making its points subtly, but rather pulling no punches whatsoever. Director Samuel Fuller was always known for telling it like it is, as well as maintaining his independence from the Hollywood mainstream. At first, Paramount had intended to distribute this movie after owning the rights to Romain Gary's story for years. However, I can guess that the powers that be were still very afraid of the adverse reaction WHITE DOG was likely going to generate, mainly by people who either had not seen the movie, or had misunderstood it. That was why Paramount pulled out before the film's American release, and to this day, it has not been seen in our theaters.
It is thus easily understood why Fuller never made another American film (to which I say, good for him!) because even as liberal as we Americans often claim to be, sometimes a certain subject such as that portrayed in WHITE DOG hits a little too close to home. Fuller dared to talk about racism (a problem still alive & well even decades after the advent of civil rights) without any sugarcoating whatsoever, and it was this take-no-prisoners approach that meant curtains for the film even before it had a chance. No surprise, European audiences & critics loved WHITE DOG, and understood the movie for what it was: a statement against racism, not condoning it. Furthermore, Fuller dared to put forth the theory that racism can be taught to another person (or in this case, animal) by careful teaching. Whether or not deprogramming in the opposite direction can happen is unclear. WHITE DOG succeeds by not giving any clear-cut answers, and that is another reason why Americans probably would not have taken to it well: for every message picture we get, we expect to see some solutions for the problem. WHITE DOG does not do that.
To say WHITE DOG is a film ahead of its time would be an understatement because I do not think even today, a movie like this could be green-lighted by a major studio. Coalitions & interest groups would likely protest loudly enough to force WHITE DOG off the screen. Some would say the violence is to blame, and yes, it IS graphic. But the film does have a PG rating, so it is not gore of the highest order. Even when the film did make it on to American cable, cuts were made so that the dog merely bit its victims rather than killed them. Others would say the mere plot of the movie itself is hateful enough, but sometimes an unvarnished approach to a brutal subject is necessary to get the point across. All I can say is be prepared to have the film's message beat you over the head, for I highly doubt Fuller would have done it any other way. It will also cause heated debate & discussion, yet another result that Fuller (R.I.P.) would also have appreciated totally.