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Saturday, February 13, 2010

My Life as a Dog (Mitt liv som hund)

           A solid 100 percent on RottenTomatoes.com, winner of Best foreign film at the Golden Globes and nominated for an Oscar (1985), this is the story of Ingemar, who lives with his brother and terminally ill mother. He feels ignored and bullied and constantly is comparing (narrating) himself to the hard times of others.  At least for example his life isn't as bad as as Laika - the Russian dog sent into space who died without food or water, just floating away.  He relates to this dog in many ways however as he too gets sent away to stay with relatives for the summer, while his mother hopefully recovers. While there, he meets various strange characters, giving him experiences that will affect him for the rest of his life.
             Written and directed by Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, Cider House Rules, What's Eating Gilbert Grape), this tells the true (based on an autobiography) story of Ingemar, who is a child that finds himself in a comparative pedagogical relation to all the adults around him.  He can't help but find ways to mimic their actions.  His rash and unpredictable behaviours can be attributed to the unpredictability these adults.  His uncle taking him in to dinner then asking him to move in with Mrs. Arvidson, the doctor taking him in then suddenly arguing with his wife about throwing him out on the street, his uncle playing around with Ingemar pretending to be dogs then the next moment unexpectedly closing the door on him, the trapeze cyclist Fransson pretending to be dead then suddenly awaking, Mr. Arvidson one moment asking Ingemar to read to him then quickly taking the magazine away, most of all his mother's sickness and her moods seem to go back and forth and ultimately the unpredictability of her death.  This unpredictability in these pedagogical models intrigues Ingemar so much that he imitates it.  How can he not be expected to do something rash like run away when asked to move out when the question of him moving out was rash and unexpected in the first place?  Why shouldn’t he close his hands over his ears to shut out a distraction or close the door to his ranting mother when numerous times his mother asks him to close the book and stop or when he sees his uncle close the summer house door on his wife yelling, the uncle again closing the door on Ingemar when playing dog?  In light of these models, of course Ingemar would shut his ears, the door on his mother and the door on his uncle to spend a night alone.  Ultimately though through mimicking the unpredictable behaviours around him, he is acting childish but unlike the adults, he has an excuse for acting this way being that he is a child. The irony of it all however is that even though the actions of Ingemar are childish and immature he is mimicking these behaviours from grown-ups.          
           The theme of unpredictability is set from the very start as Ingemar's innocence is presented under a tunnel which is closed off from the outside world that Ingemar hides under.  He cuts his thumb and shares the blood with a female friend, proclaiming that in this way they are now married.  This innocence and moment of naivety is interrupted by an abrupt, sudden shot of a noisy train crushing overtop of the once peaceful tunnel.  I believe the director used this suddenness as a tool to foreshadow that Ingemar's innocence as a child is going to be interrupted by the unpredictability of his surroundings or in other words the unpredictability of the pedagogical relations he has with the adults around him.
            Ingemar is constantly comparing the unpredictability of life to other's experiences and other adults.  When he describes events such as a man with a kidney dying in Chicago, a railcar death, a track and field star getting killed with a javelin, a daredevil motorcycle jumper crashing and dying, or something as simple as him barely able to get to page 30 but his mother finishing the book quickly, Ingemar can’t help but compare himself to those around him and relate to the unpredictability of their events and circumstance.  The example he most frequently refers to however, because it was what he can relate to most is the example of the dog that was sent up to space with no food and died floating in loneliness.  He reflects on this example as he is sent away calling the dog's mission an example of "human progress" as he sees his being sent away to his uncle's a way of human progress for him and his mother to get better.  The summer play house is where he chooses to spend the night and lock his uncle out, the house that he wanted his dog to stay in.  It is in this house that he shuts the door and shuts out the world like he continually shuts his ears off to the world wishing to be oblivious like a dog would be.  Unlike the dog's trip however, Ingemar's space trip comes in a model spaceship on a play zip line built by a local grandfather that glides to a crash on earth.  Instead of drifting away and dying like the dog did, Ingemar finds his home in the comfort of his friends, oblivious to the noise of the town's celebrations from a boxing match and more importantly oblivious to the distractions of his life being treated as a dog. 

CONSENSUS
Rotten Tomatoes give this move a 100% rating

Zoom In Analysis will DISAGREE with this rating and go for an 8/10."
Hallström acknowledges that the film is his best work, the one he compares all his other films to" (About.com).  I don't doubt that this is his best film, and beautifully crafted at that, but a perfect ten seems over the top. Don't let that discredit your motivation for seeing the film however as Axman stated it is "One of the greatest and most sensitive films about children and the turbulence of childhood."  Any educator that deals with children needs to see this film to truly understand or become re-acquainted with what it means to be a child and how a child thinks to everyday situations.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but this is horribly written

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I had to read this for a college class. This is terribly written.

Anonymous said...

.... Me too quiz today? lmao

Anonymous said...

How much you wanna bet we're all in the same class together?

Anonymous said...

Yup ^^ LMAO

Anonymous said...

^ glad to see I'm not the only one procrastinating

Anonymous said...

Yup^^^^

Anonymous said...

Did a 5 year old write this?

Anonymous said...

LOL.

Anonymous said...

The repetition is not the worst part of this reading....

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but this "review" is horrible and badly written. It's missing a lot of commas and has so many run-on sentences to make you lose track of what you're reading.

0/10 will not read again. Good luck TFM buddies.

Anonymous said...

What is this? Why are we even reading this?

Unknown said...

The comments were the best part of this review ;)

Unknown said...

kill me

Anonymous said...

This writer just discovered the word pedagogical and has the constant need to insert it as often as possible, even if it doesn't fit well.

Written by an idiot.

Anonymous said...

same dude