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Uncanny Surrealism in the cinematography of the 21st century: Introductions Part II

Dogtooth VS Innocence

If you are one of those people that nobody ever understands your taste in movies, one of those who discover all kind of weird movies that no one has ever seen or heard of, you are at the right place. Whenever people had approached me in the past asking for movie recommendations I always share my ‘Selected Movies’ list and ask: “Out of the first ten movies, how many have you already seen?” In the unlikely scenario the response is more than three, I then share more. The first ten movies on the list (in a random order) were coming out like this:

  1. Okuribito, Yôjirô Takita, 2008

  2. Trois couleurs: Bleu, Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993

  3. Mon Oncle, Jacques Tati, 1958

  4. Le temps qui reste, Francois Ozon, 2005

  5. Faa yeung nin wa, Kar-Wai Wong, 2000

  6. Delicatessen, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 1991

  7. Madeo, Joon-ho Bong, 2009

  8. La cérémonie, Claude Chabrol, 1995

  9. Das Fest, Thomas Vinterberg, 1998

  10. Nunta Muta, Horatiu Malaele, 2008

No one has ever made it to ten! Not to say, to 5! However, this doesn't mean that my taste in movies is the best, neither that these movies are worth seen by everyone. We all have our personalised ‘cookbooks’, that are full of recipes chosen by ourselves. Although, I believe we have all noticed a remarkable drop in quality, on most of the movies produced during the last decade. Not equally in quantity though. Makes sense in many ways, but this isn't what we will be analysing here. As I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to make a comparison between the ‘Dogtooth’ and ‘Innocence’ movies for a while now. It’s been that long, that I don’t even remember why I wanted to make the comparison in the first place. But, all good movies worth another watch, so there we go.

To make the introductions 'Dogtooth' is a 2009 drama written and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and 'Innocence' is a 2004 film, also drama, written and directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic, starring Marion Cotillard -one of my top three favourite actresses. Both movies share a common idea, that of escaping from a given as normal, however abnormal reality. The idea is evolving in a way towards presuming those -abnormal to us- given forms of society are acceptable, yet the main characters are displayed as not being able to accept or adapt in that society.

Scene from the Dogtooth movie

Scene from the Innocence movie

In both movies the characters live in absolute isolation from the real world and have no virtual knowledge of what lies beyond the fence. The outside world is implied to be unknown, uncanny, whether dangerous or scary, however their curiosity towards the unknown increases and their aim to escape becomes irresistible. They both work as a subtle allegory of the totalitarian society, where some sort of guiding principle, whether the parents or the teachers in each case are trying to protect the young ones from the consequences of the outside world.

Scene from the Innocence movie

At the same time the power of the one, the individual is presented in a distorted almost perverted way in instances. Obedience is paramount and prominent in both movies. In Innocence, 'those caught trying to escape are either swallowed up by the horrors of the outside world or condemned to serve the other girls within the school walls for the rest of their lives. The girls suffer various indignities of school life, longing to get outside'. Similarly, in Dogtooth the children are taught from a very young age that they are only allowed to leave their house the moment their second dog tooth falls out. A hermetically sealed world.

On a broader scale, both films could work as a caustic indictment of the power of propaganda, assuming how easy it is to mislead and to compel people to do what one wants, simply by brainwashing them with false information and thus skewing their view of reality. Similar to how totalitarian dictatorships are sustained, and with the sequential desire for liberty and independence lurking in the recesses of the human soul. Dogtooth is filmed in a very provocative and raw imagery typical of Lanthimos, where Innocence on the contrary has a sweet, almost dreamy representation of the carefree every day life of the young girls as it evolves.

Both movies worth seeing. Well, must-watch!

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