Friday, September 23, 2011


A Film Review of Red Dog

by Jenny Haines, 23.9.11

The success of Kriv Stenders film "Red Dog" demonstrates that when filmakers and investors in Australia are prepared to put their money behind a good story, and a great rollicking rock music score, a film can be a success with the public. Apparently Red Dog is this seasons "Kenny" in terms of box office returns. And no wonder! It is a wonderful heartwarming and heartbreaking story of Red Dog, a dog well known to the northwest of western Australia in the 1970s.

Red Dog was a stray picked up by the local publicans on the way into Dampier to take over the local pub, but Red Dog, a very intelligent, loving and playful dog was everyone's dog until he met his chosen master, John, a drifter who rode into town one day to become the local bus driver. John meets Nancy, and love and jealousy thrive in the relationship between the couple and the dog. But tragedy strikes and Red Dog goes on a hitch hiking trail that takes him all around the north west, up to Darwin and down to Perth, and finally back to Dampier. His travels become the stuff of pub legends which are told throughout the movie. We meet the human characters of the north west in the 1970s too, people running from other lives, making huge amounts of money mining iron ore, "drinking and whoring" (as described by the near caravan park owner) but living their lives through the fun and enjoyment of their community, and their union. Red Dog is awarded the title of mascot of the local branch of the TWU.

There are some interesting sub texts in this movie - it would appeal to the nationalism that is sweeping Australia at present and nostalgia about the past, but care needs to be taken by those who assert that this was all Anglo Saxon White. The town of Dampier in the 1970s was a multi cultural as they come, men, mainly from all over the world who had come to make money out of mining iron ore. Missing in the movie was much of a reference to the local aboriginal tribes, long since pushed out of the mining areas, but there was a recognition in the titles at the end that the movie was made on the ground, and with the permission of local tribes.

A wonderful movie. If you get chance, go see it. For a trailer

Note the Screen Test of Koko at the bottom of the page - beautiful!!