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Film / White God

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The Unwanted Will Have Their Day

White God (Fehér isten) is a 2014 Hungarian film directed and written by Kornél Mundruczó. The film centres around a mixed-breed dog named Hagen, and his owner Lili. When Lili's mother has to travel to a conference abroad, both Hagen and his owner are left in the care of Dániel, Lili's estranged father. Dániel shows an instant dislike of the dog and, when faced with the prospect of paying a hefty "mongrel tax" in order to keep him in the house, abandons him in a disused part of the city.

From then on, we follow Lili as she tries desperately to reunite with her dog, and Hagen as he tries to survive as a stray in a world that unfairly persecutes and stigmatises mixed-breed dogs. Eventually, Hagen attracts a massive following of stray and mixed-breed dogs who seemingly initiate a violent uprising against their human oppressors.


White God debuted at the Cannes Film Festival 2014, where it won the Un Certain Regard award. The canine cast of the film were also awarded the Palm Dog award and, through the film's adoption program, they all found new homes after the shoot.

Tropes present in White God include:

  • Adult Fear: There's a giant pack of murderous dogs on the loose in your city and your daughter is out there somewhere, looking for their leader.
  • Asshole Victim: Everyone who was killed by the dogs for abusing and neglecting them.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: The dogfighting scenes are extremely difficult to sit through.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Hagen, at first before going through several hardships and a fighting-dog training for several weeks.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Literally. The last part of the movie is an army of mongrel dogs tearing into the society that has abused and hurt them for no reason other than their birth.
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  • Escaped Animal Rampage: Once Hagen and his followers escape the animal shelter.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: The government is applying a tax to mixed-breed dogs. Hagen, being one of those dogs, goes through a lot of crap because of it.
  • I Will Find You: Lili promised this when her father kicks out Hagen.
  • Kick the Dog: In spades, due to the city's "mongrel tax" against mixed-breed dogs and Daniel not liking Hagen at all, eventually abandoning him in the city.
  • Left Hanging: The film ends with the dogs calmed down, but still gathered en masse in the street and the police still hunting for them. What happens next is still very much up in the air.
  • Music Soothes the Savage Beast: When upset, Lili pacifies Hagen by playing music with her trumpet to him. In the ending, Hagen is finally pacified by the sound of Lili playing her trumpet once again, and his followers are pacified with him.
  • Pounds Are Animal Prisons: The dogs in the local pound are kept in poor conditions, with only a meager scrap of food distributed to them by apathetic workers. The manager of the pound seems to have a little bit of compassion for the dogs, but she lies to Lili about not euthanizing dogs and schedules Hagen for immediate euthanization simply because of his injured foot.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: A large chunk of the final third of the movie is Hagen setting his new followers on all those who've wronged him in the past.
  • Spoiler Cover: The poster for the film spoils the final scene.
  • Training from Hell: Hagen receives this at the hands of Péter.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Hagen is abandoned, nearly killed by a butcher, stolen and sold to an abusive owner, forced to fight in a dogfighting ring, gets captured and thrown into a dog pound where he's fed scraps, and then he is put on death row for defending himself.
  • Tropey, Come Home: Lili and Hagen have been close for a long time, and the story is kicked off by them being separated.
  • Word Salad Title: The title doesn't make any sense in the context of the movie. Some believe it's a reference to White Dog, another not-very-nice movie centered around a dog.


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