Red Dog (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Kriv Stenders|
|Produced by||Nelson Woss
|Written by||Daniel Taplitz|
|Based on||Red Dog
by Louis de Bernières
|Music by||Cezary Skubiszewski|
|Editing by||Jill Bilcock|
|Distributed by||Roadshow Film Distributors|
|Running time||92 minutes|
|Box office||A$21 million|
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. At the 2011 Inside Film Awards Red Dog was nominated in nine categories and won seven, including best feature film.
In the early 1970s, 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 he is witnessing 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 home.
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.
- Koko as Red Dog
- Josh Lucas as John Grant
- Rachael Taylor as Nancy Grey
- John Batchelor as Peeto
- Noah Taylor as Jack Collins
- Keisha Castle-Hughes as Rosa
- Loene Carmen as Maureen Collins
- Luke Ford as Thomas
- Rohan Nichol as Jocko
- Tiffany Lyndall-Knight as Patsy
- Costa Ronin as Dzambaski
- Neil Pigot as Rick
- Eamon Farren as Dave
- Arthur Angel as Vanno
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.
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 as did Beverly Duckett in her 1993 book Red Dog: The Pilbara Wanderer.
Red Dog's and statue have 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. A four-wheel-drive club has been named in his honour.
Red Dog is the eighth-highest grossing Australian film of all time. 11 days after opening, Red Dog became the highest grossing Australian film of 2011.
The Red Dog DVD is the biggest-selling Australian DVD of all time. The DVD is also the third-highest selling DVD of all time in Australia behind Avatar (first) and Finding Nemo (second).
The red dog actor, Koko the Red, has died at the age of 7 from a heart condition (2012-12-18).
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) and opened at #5 at the New Zealand box office, earning NZ$124,447 from 72 screens. The film has been a DVD only release in territories such as Germany and Argentina 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.
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." 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.
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."
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".
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".
Red Dog won Best Film and the Australian Film Institute (AFI) Member's Choice Award at the 2011 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards.
- Best Actor – Josh Lucas
- Best Direction – Kriv Stenders
- Best Script
- Best Cinematography
- Best Music
- Best Box Office Achievement
It missed winning Best Editing and Best Production Design.
Red Dog won the Grand Prize Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Heartland Film Festival 2011. The Award included a cash prize of $100,000.
In 2012 Koko won the Award for Best Dog in a Foreign Film at the inaugural Golden Collar Awards in Los Angeles. Koko's acceptance speech was played at the ceremony because he was unable to attend the event.
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
In March 2012 it was announced 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.
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- Duckett, Beverley (1989). Red Dog The Pilbara Wanderer.
- 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.
- "Red Dog / Nancy Gillespie | National Library of Australia". Catalogue.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
- "Red Dog : the Pilbara wanderer / by Beverley Duckett | National Library of Australia". Catalogue.nla.gov.au. Retrieved 2012-06-08.
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- Rotten Tomatoes
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- "Red Dog is top dog at IF awards". The Age. AAP. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- Hardie, Giles. "Red Dog the musical". Website. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 May 2012.