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Film / Mondo Cane

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Mondo Cane ("A Dog's World") is a 1962 film directed by Gualtiero Jacopetti, Paolo Cavara, and Franco Prosperi.

It is a documentary, more or less. The film is a series of disconnected segments that are meant to document the shocking or bizarre or disturbing aspects of 1962 life. The vignettes included in the film are wildly varying in subject and mood. Among the many random bits that make up this film are:

  • Topless New Guinea tribeswomen literally chasing after multiple men to make into their multiple husbands.
  • Another New Guinea community in which the people have a feast that requires beating their pigs to death with sticks.
  • Dogs being bred and slaughtered for food in Taiwan.
  • French ducks being force-fed to make foie gras, contrasted with Japanese wagyu cows being massaged and having beer to drink so that their meat is of the highest quality.
  • Overweight American housewives trying to shed pounds at an exercise club.
  • Italians slicing their legs up with glass as part of a Good Friday religious procession.
  • Drunk people stumbling out of a bar in Hamburg.
  • An artist who makes art by having naked ladies cover themselves in blue paint and press up against a canvas.
  • A "running of the bulls" but in Portugal, not the iconic one in Pamplona, Spain.

And many more.

This film was the Trope Maker for the Mondo or "shockumentary" genre, in which quasi-documentary anthology films intentionally titillate, shock, or revolt the audience. It received direct sequels from the original filmmakers, as well as imitators such as the infamous Faces of Death series.


  • An Arm and a Leg: Malaysian fishermen, who have lost various limbs, are shown collecting shark fins that have been harvested and left on the beach.
  • Anthology Film: A loose collection of segments, most of which have no relationship other than documenting the weird or absurd or disturbing.
  • Body Paint: Some goofball artist creates a painting by coating sexy models neck-to-ankle with blue paint and having them press themselves against a canvas.
  • Cargo Cult: New Guinea tribesmen worship the cargo planes that land at Port Moresby, and build their own imitation runway, hoping to lure a cargo plane to land.
  • Desert Skull: On an island, surprisingly, as the shells and bones of sea turtles are shown to demonstrate how they're supposedly dying from radioactive contamination left by American nuclear tests in the south Pacific.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The film's tone is set by a panicked dog being dragged into a pound where angry dogs viciously threaten it through bars before it's forcibly thrown in with them. The horror is that the viewer watches the poor dog panicking and whining for two minutes as the other dogs promise violence.
  • Ethical Slut: The women of Kiriwina Island are depicted as this. The narrator describes them as "very pretty and very nonchalant about the matters of love."
  • Exploitation Film: Topless Pacific bikini girls...people cooking dogs for dinner...
  • Fanservice: National Geographic Nudity in New Guinea, bikini-clad French girls showing off for horny American sailors, a whole squadron of swimsuit-clad Australian women doing very fake-looking rescue drills, and models coated in body paint for some artist's ridiculous painting.
  • Foreign Queasine: One of the main themes. Taiwanese eating dog (complete with shots of slaughtered dogs hanging from hooks), a snake skinned alive in Singapore for food, New Guineans eating the entrails of their pigs, and an American restaurant which supposedly serves bugs as entrees.
  • Gilligan Cut: The narrator says of the men of Kiriwina Island that "the male is sly, and stays far away from danger." Cue two men getting ambushed by women that leap out of the bushes.
  • Groupie Brigade: A couple of dozen American women swarm Italian actor Rossano Brazzi and literally tear off his clothes. One of the most obviously staged segments in the film.
  • Hollywood Natives: Several segments were filmed in New Guinea and depict the natives like this way. Whether it's horny native women literally chasing men around, or a feast that gets gross in a hurry when dozens of pigs are clubbed to death, or a Cargo Cult in Port Moresby, about the only good thing one can say is that the film is just as nasty about Western and Asian societies.
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: One of the main themes, as a vignette from one society will be contrasted with a different one from somewhere else. The clip of mourners at an American pet cemetery is followed by Taiwanese people cooking and eating dogs. The American housewives trying to lose weight at a fitness club are contrasted with the New Guinea women that are supposedly locked into a cage and fed rich food until they fatten up.
  • Match Cut: Several. There's a match cut from the groupies chasing Rossano Brazzi to the New Guinea women chasing prospective mates; there's a match cut from a Japanese man's face as he's getting massaged to the face of a dead Chinese man getting prepped in a funeral home.
  • Mondo: Both the Trope Maker and Trope Namer. Though it purports to be a documentary, many of the scenes are quite obviously staged. The Groupie Brigade scene where Rossano Brazzi is attacked conveniently has multiple cameras to film a supposedly spontaneous moment. A camera in a helicopter was conveniently there to film the French motorboat filled with hot ladies circling the U.S. Navy ship. The skulls decorating a coral reef on what is supposedly a Malaysian "underwater cemetery" are suspiciously intact and all closely arranged—and where are the other bones? Some scenes—the dog cemetery, the drunk Hamburgers—are legit. But the idea that the Chinese community in Singapore transports its old folks to a building where they're dumped in cots and left to die seems pretty dubious.
  • Narrator: Narration that ranges from serious (in a Large Ham sort of way) in some of the nastier segments, to drily sarcastic in some of the sillier segments.
  • National Geographic Nudity: The topless women of Kiriwina Island, literally hunting for husbands, as their society practices polyandry. Notably, when the film depicts white women for fanservice, like the French ladies flirting with American sailors, the white women keep their tops on.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The film's composer Riz Ortolani was a master at doing this, with the most outrageous moments often being accompanied by music that sounds like it could have been the backing track to a contemporary pop ballad. Indeed, one of the recurring melodies in the soundtrack became the basis for "More", a contemporary pop ballad which was a hit in 1963. Nearly two decades later, Ortolani would employ this same method, to terrifying effect, in Cannibal Holocaust.
  • To the Pain: According to the narration, a shark in the waters off Malaysia recently killed and ate a 12-year-old boy. So the local fishermen are getting their revenge by hooking sharks and force-feeding them poisonous sea urchins, which ensures that the sharks will die a slow and painful death in about seven days.
  • With Lyrics: The theme music from this film attracted so much attention that it acquired lyrics and, under the title "More," became a standard.