‘Isle of Dogs’ is fetching hearts


The Mirror reporter


It’s hard to imagine a world without our beloved pets, most specifically dogs. However, in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, this simple nightmare is reality.

In the Japanese city of Megasaki, a mysterious dog flu runs rampant, and begins to wreak havoc on the city’s inhabitants. Mayor Kobayashi then takes it upon himself to banish all dogs to a small, trash-ridden island off the coast of the city, coincidentally named Trash Island.

From the beginning, the movie works diligently to provoke emotional responses from dog lovers. When a young pilot crash lands on Trash Island looking for his lost dog, four friendly canines by the names of King, Rex, Boss and Chief almost immediately jump to his aid and help, taking advantage of those craving to see a human-dog relationship.

The movie takes an unconventional approach to animation, utilizing stop-motion, meaning that an alternate force moves an object between every shot to make it appear as if though the object does so on its own. Other movies have utilized stop motion, such as the popular Wallace and Gromit, as well as Chicken Run and Frankenweenie. Movies such as these are a result of tedious and perfectionist work.

The animation is not the only unconventional aspect of the movie. Many would believe especially considering the fact that the plot revolves around dogs, that a generic, sappy dog-to-human relationship would ensue with infinite mundanity. This was not the case, and it was done beautifully so. If you attend this movie hoping to see some cute doggies and love stories, you will most likely leave confused, but oddly satisfied nonetheless.

Many people have made inferences as to the movie’s meaning, drawing similarities between Isle of Dogs and Yury Tynyanov’s Lieutenant Kije, a satirical Russian novella written in 1929 about the reign of Russia’s Paul I. The topic of the book is exceedingly similar to Isle of Dogs. While the novella is a certainly interesting comparison, many also believe the movie relates to Cold War era Russian Presidents, with the dogs being political dissidents, and Trash Island serving as the Gulags. It’s certainly an interesting discussion, however, whether or not the producers intended to create this sort of an allegory is unknown.

Initially, I knew very little about the movie before actually seeing it. I really had no idea what to expect. Stop-motion was something I haven’t been exposed to in years, and admittedly, I wasn’t exceedingly optimistic about the film. After seeing the movie, I am glad that I decided to broaden my horizons. The beautiful cinematography, paired with superb acting and well-thought-out scripts, is powerful enough to captivate any audience.