The first film in four years, Wes Anderson finally made it to Russia – almost three months after the premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. Maria Kuvshinova saw in it references to important political events of recent times.
On the eve of his sixth or seventh re-election, Mayor Kobayashi – a man with icy gray streaks in blue-black hair and Toshiro Mifune’s face – promises to deport all dogs from the city of Megasaki. The first on the Garbage Island is sent his own guard dog, assigned to the distant relative of the mayor – the orphan boy Atari. Deputies and ordinary citizens, frightened by the flu epidemic among the four-legged, welcome the “final solution to the dog question”; against only the scientist standing on the threshold of the opening of the vaccine, the staff of the school newspaper and the traveler of the Anglo-Saxon democracy, Tracy, who came from Ohio to exchange. Sick and hungry dogs wander through an abandoned dump and do not suspect that they are facing great challenges ahead of them.
“Island of Dogs”, like the previous film by Wes Anderson “Hotel Grand Budapest”, was first shown at the Berlin festival – the most politicized of international film reviews. It seems to be not a suitable place for the author of decorative pobasenok about adult children in a state of tragicomic fiasco. But in a world where everything has become a politics – from gastronomic predilections to flirting, even a puppet cartoon about dogs has a political dimension. Kobayashi comes from an ancient clan that has been at war with dogs for centuries; thanks to the propaganda of his hatred the whole city becomes infected – people who yesterday bought their pets delicacies and dressed them in pretty suits.
It can be said that the dogs in the film are a metaphor for “minorities”; historical analogies are instantly emerging – from Jews in the Third Reich to gays in modern Russia. But there is no “majority”, any society is configured from a variety of “minorities”, you can pull out and deport them by any parameters. The question is rather whether the powers endowed by the authorities will survive those who are powerless – and whether the weak will fight for their rights. Perhaps, it is too schematic, but it is obvious: one desperate daredevil, an independent press and a group of young political activists (note the reference to the anti-conservative youth protests of the Trump era) stand on the path of genocide. But, stepping on unsteady political ground, it is impossible to be liberal enough and progressive for everyone: in the USA, Wes Anderson has already been accused of speculating on a superficially understood Japanese culture (among the films that inspired Ostrov, Porco Rosso and Evangelion) , the exploitation of the stereotype of a “passive Asiatic” and a disparaging attitude towards the Japanese (dogs in the movie talk to each other in English, people in Japanese, they are hardly translated, as if these replicas are not important).
In light of the conservative turn in both America and the world, the liberal Hollywood is giving more and more effort to the propaganda of humanism (especially in children’s cinema). But the “Island of Dogs”, of course, can be looked at and simply as a fairy tale that balances on the border of the charming and disgusting (which are bitten off ears, lacerations and graphic kidney transplantation), but ultimately leads to catharsis.