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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

White God aka "Fehér isten" [Blu-ray]

 

(Kornél Mundruczó, 2014)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Pola Pandora Filmproduktions

Video: Magnolia Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:01:09.262

Disc Size: 40,317,322,022 bytes

Feature Size: 30,539,059,200 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 28th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Hungarian 1814 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1814 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English,, Spanish, French, None

 

Extras:

• Behind the Scenes of White God (17:17)

• Interview with director/writer Kornél Mundruczó (14:42)

• Interview with Animal Co-ordinator/Technical Advisor Teresa Ann Miller (4:43)

Theatrical Trailer (2:19)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: When young Lili is forced to give up her beloved dog Hagen because its mixed-breed heritage is deemed unfit by The State, she and the dog begin a dangerous journey back towards each other. At the same time, all the unwanted, unloved and so-called unfit dogs rise up under a new leader, Hagen, the one-time house-pet who has learned all too well from his Masters in his journey through the streets and animal control centers that man is not always dog's best friend.

***

Kornél Mundruczó's drama White God tells the tale of a tenacious dog and its loving owner, a 13-year-old girl whose parents are engaged in an ugly divorce. Set in Hungary, the movie kicks off as the government passes a law to encourage and control dog breeding that forces those owning mutts to pay an extra tax. This leads to heartbreak for young Lili (Zsófia Psotta), when her frustrated father abandons her beloved dog Hagen on the street in order to avoid the new law. Lili decides to reunite with her dog, while Hagen also longs for Lili, and ends up leading a group of similarly abandoned canines. White God screened at the Un Certain Regard program at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

 

 

The Film:

The hand that feeds — and also brutalizes — is righteously bitten in “White God,” a Hungarian revenge fantasy that’s like nothing you’ve seen on screen before. The story is as simple as a parable, a campfire story, a children’s book: A faithful animal, separated from its loving owner, endures, suffers, struggles and resists while trying to transcend its brutal fate. The director, Kornel Mundruczo, has said that he was partly inspired by J. M. Coetzee’s devastating novel “Disgrace,” but the movie also invokes haunting animal classics like “Black Beauty” and “The Call of the Wild.”

Like Buck, the four-legged hero of “The Call of the Wild,” the dog protagonist in “White God,” Hagen — played with full-bodied expressivity by the canine siblings Bodie and Luke — is a mixed breed. For his closest companion, a solemn-faced 13-year-old named Lili (Zsofia Psotta), Hagen’s ancestry isn’t an issue, but it is one for those state officials who tax dogs that aren’t purebreds. Lili’s father, Daniel (Sandor Zsoter), who has custody of her for a few months, has no interest in paying the tax or keeping the dog, which is how Hagen ends up on the streets of Budapest, initially alone, then in the hands of a cruel master and then with a pack.

Excerpt from Manohla Dargis at the NY Times located HERE

A small, touching fable about a girl and her dog becomes an adrenaline-pumping thriller about animals against humans in Hungarian filmmaker Kornél Mundruczó's exhilarating radicalization allegory "White God." By turns Dickensian, Marxist and dystopian, it's a movie as deliriously unclassifiable as it is expertly focused in its desire to provoke and entertain.

The setup is intimate and recognizable, heartbreakingly so. When 13-year-old child of divorce Lili (Zsófia Psotta) is handed off for a few months to her short-tempered slaughterhouse inspector father (Sandor Zsótér), she brings along her true bestie, a lovable reddish-brown mutt named Hagen. Dad won't pay a new, stiff, purebred-favored tax on mixed breed ownership, however, and in a fit of rage abandons Hagen to the streets, to the dismay of his daughter.

While Lili battles fruitless searches for her companion and simmering resentment toward authority, "White God" initiates a parallel track by giving us Hagen's journey, and a whopper it is: a brutal series of near-death escapes from a cleaver-wielding butcher tired of mongrels hanging outside his shop, the clutches of the animal shelter, and the sadistic world of underground dog-fighting.

Excerpt from the LA Times located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

White God has a strong dual-layered Blu-ray transfer from Magnolia. This is another modern film shot with the versatile Arri Alexa HD cam. The beginning of the film has some bouncy hand-held gyrations and, mimicking the dog movements can be quite kinetic. The black levels and colors are strong exported by a high bitrate. The outdoor sequences, naturally, looked the best. I saw no noise in the night sequences. Marcell Rév's cinematography is deft and well-thought out. The Blu-ray presentation seems like a terrific replication of the theatrical with no flaws in the HD progressive rendering.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Magnolia use a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 1814 kbps in the original Hungarian-language. There are effects even beyond the pooches and there are a few notable, head-turning, separations to the rear speakers. The score is by Asher Goldschmidt and supports the films tender and suspenseful moments well. Some may note Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and it sounds wonderful via the lossless. There are optional subtitle choices and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

 

Extras :

Magnolia add some supplements. We get a 17-minute Behind the Scenes piece with input from some of the principals. There is also a 1/4 hour interview with director/writer Kornél Mundruczó (in English) filling in some production and evolution details and there is a brief interview with Animal Coordinator/Technical Advisor Teresa Ann Miller for about 5-minutes discussing the use of dogs in the film. There is also a theatrical trailer. What I thought would have been a great extra is if one or two of the director's early short films (ex. Bianco, Apu, Föpróba, Nuker) were included.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
White God may seem like a children's film on the surface - but it can be quite harsh and unsettling. The revenge and violent themes are quite impacting. Although I might have reservations showing it to young children - I was totally enthralled by my viewing. I couldn't help but think a little bit of Disney's Lady and the Tramp. It's a very strong film and the Magnolia Blu-ray provides a great presentation with some value in the extras. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed White God and we can certainly recommend this 1080P package!

Gary Tooze

July 23rd, 2015

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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