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It's easy for us in free(er) societies to make fun of people living in authoritarian states who believe everything their closed circuit of information tells them. Can they really believe that Great Leader never poops? How can that be, when they know he's human, the way they are? Or are they truly sold on the idea that the head of state is superhuman, a true messianic figure? What we see as a pudgy man-child playacting a god with an entire country. They are told that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, he is God. It's hard for us to imagine that our capability of learning through reasoning in the modern world comes as a given, but we are empty shells at birth, ready to be filled with ANY information we're capable of imbibing.
Co-writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, the grand cynic of contemporary cinema and an invaluable voice in absurdist dark -with a capital D and an underline- comedy, captures so succinctly the brutal and brutally funny realities of life under such a regime through his brilliantly astute 2009 allegory, Dogtooth. His film centers on three teenagers (Angeliki Papoulia, Hristos Passalis, Mary Tsoni) who spend their entire existence, all the way from birth, trapped inside a house by their parents (Christos Stergioglou and Michele Valley), being told that the outside world is a post-apocalyptic hellscape that will kill them immediately.
They are taught different words for different things (My favorite is "keyboard" to mean "vagina"), they believe in absurd realities, such as the idea that only the family car can step foot into the outside world, and their entire worldview is shaped by their parental figures. Why are the parents doing this to their offspring? We're never really told, since Lanthimos places the audience into the point-of-view of the teenagers, letting us simultaneously experience their confusion at a "hostile" outside world, and their bliss in the faith that their parents, their leaders, are looking out for them.
Yet as a woman (Anna Kalaitzidou) hired to have sex with the boy begins to give the kids information from the actual outside world, the parents' illusion begins to crack open. The father's reasoning for hiring the woman is so his son can satisfy his sexual urges, but the girls' sexuality is never even considered, until of course they're needed to be used for other, more disgusting sexual gratification, outlining Lanthimos' critique of the strictly patriarchal engine of such societies.
Lanthimos achieves his vision of making the house at the center of the story look like a Garden of Eden, accentuating the contrast between what the world looks like to these kids versus what it actually is, by using a bright and yellow-tinted look. The 1080p transfer captures this with great clarity, although there's a fair amount of scratches here and there. Regardless, this is the best copy you'll find on home video.
The DTS-HD 5.1 track is very subtle in the way it uses the surround tracks. The quiet and introspective sound design matches the film's tone perfectly, but of course results in a fairly center and front-heavy experience. In that sense, you'll be fine listening through your TV speakers using the included DTS-HD 2.0 track.
Audio Commentary: This commentary by actors Angeliki Papoulia and Hristos Passalis, who play two of the children, goes over the inception of the characters, the movie's themes, and the unorthodox production in a fairly candid manner.
Yorgos Lanthimos in Conversation with Kent Jones: This 45-minute interview is very intriguing and valuable… If this was Blu-ray for The Favourite, since that's what Lanthimos talks about here. Apart from that, it gives us more general insight into Lanthimos' aesthetic and overall work.
Interview with Yorgos Lanthimos: Even though this interview is only 12 minutes long, Lanthimos manages to encapsulate the general information regarding the film's inception to overall impact he desired with the finished product.
Deleted Scenes: Three abstract sequences in very low resolution. Incidentally all three involve music or dancing.
We also get Trailers for Dogtooth and Alps.
There are many surprises in Dogtooth, some shocking, some revolting, some hilarious, some all within the same scene, that should be experienced firsthand without much of a hint from a reviewer. Like many of Lanthimos' subsequent work, you're not likely to forget about it any time soon.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com