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Film / Inja

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Inja ("Dog") is a 2002 short film (14 minutes) by Steven Pasvolsky from Australia.

The film is set in South Africa. At some date shortly before the end of apartheid in 1994, a Xhosa boy named Thembile, who looks to be about 12, lives on a white Afrikaner's plantation. Thembile has befriended a young puppy. The boy and the puppy become best friends—until Johannes, the plantation owner, intervenes. Johannes makes Thembile stuff the dog in a bag. Johannes kicks the dog repeatedly. Then he makes Thembile open the bag. The idea seems to be to train the dog to hate and fear black people.

Skip forward to after the end of apartheid (as demonstrated by the new flag). Nelson Mandela may be president but Johannes is still the owner of the plantation. Thembile has grown to adulthood and works for Johannes; the dog, now grown quite large, does in fact bark and growl at black people. One day Johannes and Thembile go out to mend a fence, taking the dog along. Then something unexpected happens.

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Tropes:

  • A Boy and His X: A boy and his dog, and how the master cruelly takes the dog away and turns it against him.
  • Death by Racism: If Johannes did die of his heart attack, it would be this trope, as his cruelty in taking the dog and turning into an attack dog that hates black people led to his death. The film ends before we find out if he survived his heart attack.
  • Kick the Dog: Literally, as Johannes viciously kicks the dog to train it to hate blacks.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Johannes has a heart attack while he and Thembile are out mending the fence. Johannes's cruelty to the dog then bites him in the ass when Thembile attempts to bring him medicine, but can't approach him, because the dog growls and bares his teeth.
  • Shoot the Dog: Maybe. Probably. At the end of the film, Johannes, writhing in pain on the ground, tells Thembile to shoot the dog so Thembile can give Johannes his heart medication. We see Thembile looking indecisively at the hostile, snarling face of the dog that once loved him. We hear a gunshot on the soundtrack, but we do not see Thembile shoot the dog; instead, the film ends.
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  • Time-Shifted Actor: Two different actors play young and adult Thembile (and for that matter there are two different dogs).
  • Time Skip: Long enough for both Thembile and the dog to grow into adulthood.
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