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Barking Island (Chienne d'histoire, "bitch of history") is a 2010 animated short film (15 minutes) from France, directed by Serge Avedikian.

The setting is Constantinople, 1910. The capital of the Ottoman Empire has become overrun with stray dogs, with some 60,000 roaming the streets. The film focuses on one single dog, a female, who births a litter of puppies in the street. Meanwhile, the government deliberates what to do. An expert arrives in town and suggests that the city's dogs be rounded up and sent to a rendering plant where they will be gassed and then rendered for skin and fats and fur. The government passes on this, and, for reasons that aren't clear, adopts a different and far crueler solution.


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Tropes:

  • Based on a True Story: A real incident in which tens of thousands of dogs—the film says thirty thousand, Wikipedia says eighty thousand—were abandoned on the island of Sivriada to die.
  • Circling Vultures: The island has no food or water. Some of the dogs eat each other, but those that aren't eaten by other dogs die of hunger and thirst. Near the end the film shows flocks of vultures circling over the island, which is littered with dog skeletons.
  • Death of a Child: The female dog finds her puppies on the island, in a sack, drowned.
  • Diabolical Dog Catcher: Averted. The one man the film focuses on, one of the men who rounds up the dogs, is shown covering his ears as the howls from the island (only a half-mile offshore) are heard in the city.
  • Final Solution: Per invokedWord of God from Serge Avedikian, an Armenian, the film is a metaphor for the Armenian Genocide in which up to 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by the government of Turkey.
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  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: The European fellow who makes a pitch to send the city's dogs to a rendering plant is shown wearing opaque glasses. Ironically, the solution that the city government actually comes up with is far more terrible.
  • The Ken Burns Effect: Starts out with a slide show of actual (but colorized) photographs of Constantinople in the pre-war era, as the camera pans and zooms, before the one female dog is shown walking through a picture and the animated portion starts.
  • Limited Animation: Much of the film is simply the camera panning over watercolor stills. The part of the film that is animated is done in a simple Clip-Art Animation style, with limited movement.
  • Silence Is Golden: There is no dialogue in the short.
  • Spinning Paper: Played straight as a spinning paper reports that there are 60,000 stray dogs on the streets of Constantinople.
  • Stray Animal Story: A particularly terrifying one about the city of Constantinople killing its dogs in the cruelest possible way.
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