Red Dog (film)

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Red Dog
Red Dog (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Kriv Stenders
Produced by Julie Ryan
Nelson Woss
Written by Daniel Taplitz
Based on Red Dog 
by Louis de Bernières
Starring Koko
Josh Lucas
Rachael Taylor
John Batchelor
Music by Cezary Skubiszewski
Cinematography Geoffrey Hall
Edited by Jill Bilcock
Distributed by Roadshow Film Distributors
Release date(s)
  • 4 August 2011 (2011-08-04) (Australia)
Running time 92 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Italian
Serbian
Russian
Polish
Budget A$8.5 million
Box office A$21 million[1]

Red Dog is a 2011 Australian family film directed by Kriv Stenders and produced by Nelson Woss and Julie Ryan. The film is based on a true story from the novel Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres about Red Dog.[2] At the 2011 Inside Film Awards, Red Dog was nominated in nine categories and won seven, including best feature film. The film was also nominated for seven AACTA Awards and won for Best Film.

Plot[edit]

In 1979, a truck driver Thomas (Luke Ford) arrives in Dampier, Western Australia, late one night. Upon entering the town pub he sees the silhouettes of a group of men, one of whom is holding a gun. Believing it is a murder, he rushes into the next room, where he sees that the men are trying to put down an apparently sick dog (Koko). Unable to bring themselves to carry out the euthanasia, the men, with Thomas, retreat to the bar.

Publican Jack Collins (Noah Taylor) tells him the dog's name is Red Dog and narrates his story. Upon arriving in Dampier, the dog befriends many of the employees of Hamersley Iron, who have a major iron ore excavation in progress. Various miners relate their stories of Red Dog to Thomas, but state that, while Red Dog was a dog for everyone, he had no real master.

The men then tell of an American named John Grant (Josh Lucas), who became Red's true master. John, a bus driver for Hamersley Iron, starts dating a woman named Nancy (Rachael Taylor), who is a secretary at Hamersley Iron. After living in Dampier for two years, John proposes to Nancy. On the night of the engagement, John tells Red Dog to stay until he returns from Nancy's caravan. Early the next morning, John rides his motorcycle from Nancy's caravan, but is killed in an accident on the way

In the shock of John's accident, Nancy and the Hamersley men forget about Red Dog. Three days after the funeral, they find him still waiting where John told him to stay. After three weeks Red dog decides to look for John, first at Hamersley Iron, then the bar and other places where John was known to go, until all of Dampier is explored. He then continues across much of the Australian North West Pilbara region from Perth to Darwin. He is even rumoured to have caught a ship to Japan in search of John. Finally, the grief catches up to him, and he decides to return to Dampier. When he arrives, he returns to Nancy at the caravan park where she is staying, and she is overwhelmed to see him. The caretakers of the caravan park, however, do not allow dogs in the park, and threaten to shoot Red Dog. Nancy and John's friends at Hamersley then travel to the community of Dampier in support of Red Dog and, after a "civilised chat" with some of the miners, the caretaker and his wife leave, leaving their cat, Red Cat, behind. A great fight between Red Dog and Red Cat ensues, and in the end, they resolve their differences and become mates.

Back in the present day, miner Jocko (Rohan Nichol) asks the gathered crowd why they should have a statue of a man (William Dampier) set in their town when all he did in relation to the place was say that there were too many flies, and suggests that they should instead erect a statue of someone who represents the town – Red Dog. During the celebrations that follow, Red Dog gets up and walks out of the bar, unnoticed by everyone. Upon realising that the sick dog has left, everyone in the town begins looking for him, eventually finding him lying dead in front of John's grave.

One year later, Thomas once again drives up to Dampier with a new puppy, a new Red Dog and the whole town unveils a statue of Red Dog, a statue which still stands today.

Cast[edit]

Cameos[edit]

Story basis[edit]

Main article: Red Dog (Pilbara)

Red Dog (c. 1971 – 21 November 1979) was a Kelpie/cattle dog cross who was well known for his travels through Western Australia's Pilbara region. There is a statue in his memory in Dampier, which is one of the towns to which he often returned.[3][4]

Red Dog is believed to have been born in the town of Paraburdoo in 1971[5] and had a variety of names to those who knew him, including: Bluey, Tally Ho, and Dog of the Northwest.[6]

Soon after Red's death in 1979, Australian author Nancy Gillespie wrote and compiled anecdotes and poetry written by several people of the Pilbara region for her book Red Dog[7] as did Beverly Duckett in her 1993 book Red Dog: The Pilbara Wanderer.[8]

Red Dog's statue has caught the attention of a number of people passing through Dampier including British author Louis de Bernières, who was inspired to write a book loosely based on Red's legend called Red Dog.[9] A four-wheel-drive club has been named in his honour.[10]

Commercial response[edit]

As of 17 November 2011, the film made more than A$21 million at the Australian box office since opening in August 2011.[1]

Red Dog is ranked eighth in the list of (Cinema of Australia) highest-grossing Australian film's of all time. 11 days after opening, Red Dog became the highest-grossing Australian film of 2011.[11]

DVD and related media[edit]

Red Dog was officially released on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digital download on 1 December 2011 in Australia.

The Red Dog DVD is the biggest-selling Australian DVD of all time.[12] The DVD is also the third-highest selling DVD of all time in Australia behind Avatar (first) and Finding Nemo (second).

Overseas performance[edit]

The film has not been as successful overseas as it was in Australia. The film opened at #25 in the United Kingdom, earning just £24,727 from 56 screens ( 24–26 February 2012)[13] and opened at #5 at the New Zealand box office, earning NZ$124,447 from 72 screens.[14] The film has been a DVD only release in territories such as Germany and Argentina[15] but has been acquired by independent distributor Arc Entertainment in a deal for all media in the United States, though there is "no word on a theatrical release date or strategy" in the announcement.[16]

Critical response[edit]

Critical response has also been more mixed overseas than in Australia.

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw (U.K.) asked "Is it a children's story for adults? Or an adult's story for children?" and stated that the film "comes across like a well-meaning PG-certification of the real world."[17] The Hollywood Reporter's Megan Lehmann (U.S.A.) called the film "genial but unsophisticated fare, with plenty of hammy acting and broad humor" and that it "borders on naivety, and some of the more roughly drawn characters begin to grate early" though stated that the film "achieves a kind of existential purity. But then the two-legged actors butt in and the moment is lost.[18]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 86% of critics reviewed the film positively, with an average score of 7.5/10.[19]

Phillip French of The Guardian said that the film is "guaranteed to bring tears and laughter".[20]

Garry Couzens of The Digital Fix said that, "I saw this film and War Horse within a day of each other, and felt that Red Dog achieved much of what Spielberg's film was aiming at, with much less sentimentality, anthropomorphism and self-importance, more laughs and with an hour's less running time."[21]

Mark Adams of the Sunday Mirror gave Red Dog a three star rating and said, "this canine true story is an engaging, feel-good Australian family drama about a dog." Adams opined that it boasted a strong cast and felt that overall it was "clichéd but charming".[22]

Craig Mathieson of SBS awarded the film three stars out of five, observing that the film "passes through various emotional states without ever being too taxing" and felt that Red Dog was "the most widely appealing Australian film since Bran Nue Dae".[23]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Award
(1st)
Best Film Julie Ryan Won
Nelson Woss Won
Best Direction Kriv Stenders Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Daniel Taplitz Nominated
Best Editing Jill Bilcock Nominated
Best Cinematography Geoffrey Hall Nominated
Best Original Music Score Cezary Skubiszewski Nominated
Best Production Design Ian Gracie Nominated
Golden Collar Award Best Dog in a Foreign Film Koko Won
Heartland Film Festival Grand Prize Award Best Narrative Feature Won
Inside Film Award Best Feature Film Julie Ryan Won
Nelson Woss Won
Best Actor Josh Lucas Nominated
Best Direction Kriv Stenders Nominated
Best Script Daniel Taplitz Nominated
Best Cinematography Geoffrey Hall Nominated
Best Music Cezary Skubiszewski Nominated
Best Box Office Achievement Nominated

The film missed winning Best Editing and Best Production Design at the Inside Film Awards.[1]

Koko's acceptance speech on YouTube was played at the ceremony because he was unable to attend the event.

Film Festivals[edit]

Red Dog has screened at numerous film festivals around the world including:

  • Berlin International Film Festival 2011
  • Heartland Film Festival 2011
  • Israeli Film Festival 2011
  • Sheffield Showcomotion Young People's Film Festival 2011
  • Melbourne International Film Festival 2011
  • Inverness Film Festival 2011
  • Busan Film Festival 2011
  • Hawaii Film Festival 2011
  • Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2011
  • Santa Barbara Film Festival 2012
  • Beijing International Film Festival 2012
  • Rincon Puerto Rico Film Festival 2012
  • Cannes Cinephiles 2012

Musical[edit]

In March 2012 it was announced[24] that the Red Dog film would be developed into a stage musical. The musical is being developed by Australian theatre producer John Frost and Red Dog producer Nelson Woss.

Prequel and possible sequel[edit]

On May 30th, 2014 it was announced that a prequel titled 'Blue Dog' is in the making and will tell the origin story of Red Dog before the events of the first film. There is also speculation that if successful enough, it will become a trilogy with a third film titled 'Yellow Dog'.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Dallas, Sam (17 November 2011). "Red Dog triumphs at 2011 Jameson IF Awards Sydney". Inside Film. Retrieved 18 November 2011. 
  2. ^ Webb, Carolyn (1 August 2011). "Real magic of Red Dog, alias Koko, comes from within and can't be trained". The Age (Melbourne: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  3. ^ Ashworth, Susie; Rebecca Turner; Simone Egger (2004). Western Australia. Lonely Planet. pp. 203–204. ISBN 1740594592. 
  4. ^ "Dampier". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 February 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  5. ^ Duckett, Beverley (1989). Red Dog The Pilbara Wanderer. 
  6. ^ Gordon, Ruth (2000). It Takes a Dog to Raise a Village: True Stories of Remarkable Canine Vagabonds. Willow Creek Press. pp. 137–151. ISBN 1572233001. 
  7. ^ "Red Dog / Nancy Gillespie | National Library of Australia". Catalogue.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  8. ^ "Red Dog : the Pilbara wanderer / by Beverley Duckett | National Library of Australia". Catalogue.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  9. ^ De Bernières, Louis (2001). Red Dog. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0375421556. 
  10. ^ "Red Dog 4WD Club". 2008-04-05. Archived from the original on 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  11. ^ Dallas, Sam. "Red Dog: highest grossing Australian film of 2011". Inside Film (IF). Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  12. ^ Bodey, Michael (8 February 2012). "Local Hit Reigns Again As Top Selling DVD". The Australian. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  13. ^ "Supporting UK film | BFI". Industry.bfi.org.uk. Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  14. ^ "New Zealand Box Office, December 1–4, 2011". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  15. ^ IMDb release info
  16. ^ 29 May 2012 (2012-05-29). "Twitter / michaelbodey: Arc Entertainment acquires". Twitter.com. Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  17. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (23 February 2012). "Red Dog – review". The Guardian (London). 
  18. ^ Megan Lehmann (20 July 2011). "'Red Dog': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  19. ^ Rotten Tomatoes
  20. ^ French, Phillip (26 February 2012). "Red Dog – Review". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  21. ^ Couzens, Garry. "Red Dog". Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  22. ^ Adams, Mark (26 February 2012). "Your movies". Sunday Mirror (Trinity Mirror). p. 39. 
  23. ^ Matheison, Craig. "Red Dog (review)". SBS. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  24. ^ Hardie, Giles. "Red Dog the musical". Website (Sydney Morning Herald). Retrieved 17 May 2012. 

External links[edit]