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Film / My Life as a Dog

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My Life as a Dog, a 1985 Swedish film directed by Lasse Hallström and adapted from the novel of the same name by Reidar Jönsson, is a very heart-wrenching and symbolic story about a boy named Ingemar (Anton Glanzelius) who loses everything.

The story, which takes place in The '50s, starts out with Ingemar's mother being terminally ill. Ingemar doesn't understand what the illness is and the mother can no longer care for him like he needs so she sends him and his brother to live with different relatives. So Ingemar loses his mother and his brother and even his dog within a year.

Ingemar has to adapt to living in a strange land with strange people. Mostly what makes them strange is how rural they are when he's used to the city. Also, several of them are eccentric like a boy with natural green hair and an artist that makes giant sculptures of naked women.


The name of the movie comes from the boy comparing himself to Laika, the first dog sent into space. The boy constantly talks about how they left the dog up there to die. Near the end of the film, the boy has a nervous breakdown thinking that he's Laika. He barks like a dog and locks himself in the guest house that he imagines to be his space shuttle. His uncle is hard pressed to figure out how to get the boy to leave his space shuttle.

In 1996, it was adapted into a television series which aired on Showtime in the United States. In the TV version, the setting was changed to contemporary Canada.


My Life as a Dog contains examples of:

  • Hands-Off Parenting: Uncle Gunner is not used to kids and keeps his distance throughout much of the movie.
  • I Miss Mom: Ingemar lost more than just his mom.
  • Implausible Hair Color: Manne is the closest thing Ingemar has to a friend but Manne has an unusual genetic trait. His hair is green. It's not bright green. It's a natural blonde hair that has somehow got a slight shade of green mixed in due to genetics. This makes Manne as much of an outsider as Ingemar.
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: The statues have artistic merit but still it's questionable merit since the statues are all giant naked women as in twenty feet tall. Ingemar gets caught peeping on the artist at work when the window he's peeping through falls and shatters.
  • Loving Bully: Saga is a girl who beats Ingemar up because she likes him.
  • Sanity Slippage: This is the main plot and the reason for the movie's name as Ingemar slowly loses himself to identifying with a dead dog.


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