Red Dog (and other stories)

Saturday night, the annual film festival known as Windrider Bay Area hosted a showing of Red Dog.

At the screening we were told that Red Dog is the all-time #3 selling DVD in Australia behind Avatar and Finding Nemo. (We also got to see the canine star’s screen test, which is hilarious.) The showing was followed by a conversation with lead actor Josh Lucas and writer Daniel Taplitz.

This was one of those stories that rolls around every now and then–a story that is as much about telling stories, and having a story, as it is about the overall plotline itself.

Red Dog is based on a true story of a dog who adopted a community in the desolate mining regions of Australia’s northwest. The dog then adopted one of the miners in particular. And when that miner died, the dog went a-wanderin’, only to return (months? years?) later.

In the film, and apparently in real life, the dog touches everyone. It brings the community of rugged miners together.

The line in the film that most struck me as the glue that held everything together was when one of the miners confessed mused on the reality entailed in coming out to a place like this to work: You dig long enough, and you discover that everyone has a story.

Everyone did have a story, and in the course of the movie a number of those stories unfold. This dog becomes the catalyst for setting many of those stories in new directions, a catalyst for new life.

The Q&A got rather bogged down (in my opinion) in the quest for cutesy stories about working with the dog Koko. Not a bad topic of conversation, but I thought the film served up a lot more compelling lines to pursue:

  • What does it take to transform our stories?
  • How do we as people find life in the middle of desolation
  • Why is it that a dog (or sometimes a child) can enter into a setting and bring people together who had, until then, managed to create their own little worlds in the midst of each other?

The film is slated for an August theatrical release here in the U.S. It’s definitely worth catching then. But make sure you bring your tissues.

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