White Dog made in 1982 is a film which was dismissed and not shown for many years because of its controversial racial subject matter, but it is now being released in the UK on Blu Ray by Eureka as part of the Masters Of Cinema Range.
Directed by iconic director Samuel Fuller and featuring Kristy McNichol, Burl Ives and Paul Winfield, White Dog is about a young actress (Kristy McNichol) who adopts a stray white Alsatian she hit with her car, but soon discovers that the dog has been conditioned to attack any black person on sight. Its only chance is Keys (Paul Winfield), an animal trainer focused on breaking the dog’s behaviour and finding a way to eradicate its vicious racial instincts.
Scripted by Curtis Hanson (originally for Roman Polanski to direct) from the Romain Gary autobiographical novel, the film has dated slightly, but still has a few shocking moments and is a powerful saga about racism and human conditioning told from a slightly different angle. The film is directed well but lacks any real tension apart from a couple of scenes but it does leave the viewer with some disturbing thoughts and images and the question, can racism be UN-taught?
The film’s theatrical release was suppressed in the United States by Paramount after rumours began circulating that the film was racist. It was released internationally in France and the United Kingdom in 1982 and broadcast on various American cable television channels.
Its first official American release came in December 2008 when Criterion released the original uncut film to Region 1 DVD. This UK release by Eureka has a nice 1080p transfer, grain is intact and its got solid colours with a clean image. Audio has original lossless mono and is clear and fine with a special mention for the unusual score by the legendary Ennio Morricone.
Extra’s are no-where to be found on the disc which is disappointing. The DVD release by Criterion has interviews with producer Davison, co-writer Curtis Hanson, and Sam Fuller s widow, Christa Lang-Fuller and also with dog trainer Karl Lewis-Miller. With the UK retail Blu ray, you do get a 48-page booklet featuring an essay on the film by Jonathan Rosenbaum, the words of Samuel Fuller, his “interview” with the dog, and rare archival imagery.
Overall a fine release of a film that certainly puts its message across in an interesting, if not entirely successful way.
FILM: 6 PICTURE: 8 SOUND: 7 EXTRAS: 1