Short Summary of Dogtooth
“Dogtooth” is a 2009 Greek film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. The movie follows a family living in isolation, where the parents have created a closed-off environment to protect their three adult children from the outside world.
The parents control every aspect of their children’s lives, teaching them a skewed understanding of language and reality, and only allowing them to interact with each other. The children’s perception of the world outside of their home is limited to fabricated stories, with the parents using fear and manipulation to keep them in line.
As the film progresses, the children begin to question the reality they’ve been taught, leading to a series of disturbing events that upend their way of life.
The movie is a commentary on the nature of power and control, and the dangers of sheltering individuals from the world. It has been praised for its unique style and dark humor, but has also received criticism for its disturbing content and unflinching portrayal of abuse.
15 Fascinating Trivia About the “Dogtooth”
Source of Inspiration
The story of the film emerged when Lanthimos was teasing his friends about getting married and having children during a conversation with them. He found it meaningless to get married when so many people are getting divorced and children are growing up with either their mothers or fathers. When his friends became defensive, he decided to make a movie based on the reactions he received from people even though he knew them well. Lanthimos believed that the best way to raise children is to keep them away from external influences, and thus, he laid the foundation for the character of the Father in Dogtooth.
The First Scene of the Film is Completely Improvised
In the first scene of the film, where the siblings are learning words and in the bathroom, the actors’ lines and actions were completely improvised. The actors’ performances were created only with reference to what they did during rehearsal.
The Only Name Mentioned in the Film
The names of the mother, father, and children living in the house are not given in the film. We only learn the name of Christina, who enters the house from outside to satisfy the sexual needs of the son, from the father. We can explain this situation as the uncertainty of Christina’s character coming from an unknown world for the children and the manifestation of her power over the children.
Throughout the film, we do not know why the parents decided to raise their children this way. We are not sure if the “outside” world in the created universe is really a place that needs to be protected or if we are in a world that we know. We can say that this is a conscious choice of Lanthimos not to judge what the parents did. The point we are really supposed to focus on is how far we can go in confusing people’s minds with our behavior and making them believe what we want.
Mary Tsoni, who played the role of the little sister in Dogtooth, died on May 8, 2017. She was found dead at home, and the cause of her death could not be determined. It was said that Mary Tsoni was depressed and had received psychological treatment in recent times.
No Research Was Done for Script Writing
The director, who describes Dogtooth as a surreal story, did not do any research before or during the script writing. He did not visualize the film during the script writing stage or the casting process. However, he started to think about how the film would be after starting rehearsals.
Conditions of Making the Film
Financing is one of the biggest challenges for Greek filmmakers. Films were financed by the government in Greece, and the Greek Film Centre was the only center responsible for film production. Lanthimos, who said that it was almost impossible for young people to make films until 10 years ago, adds that this situation has now changed because young Greek filmmakers who are recognized internationally have emerged. The director received 200,000 euros from the Greek Film Centre for Dogtooth, and he says that there were also volunteers during the production phase of the film.
The Impact of Greek Cinema Perception
Famous Italian director and 2009 Cannes Jury President, Paulo Sorrentino says, “Dogtooth” completely surprised him: “Because most Greek films do not find international distributors, most viewers have a limited idea of what a Greek film is. Most people think of a fisherman, a beautiful island, and ancient ruins. Most of “Dogtooth” is shot in a big house and the surrounding garden, as the children are not allowed outside the house. In this way, the film played with the expectation viewers had when going to see a Greek film.”
Lanthimos’ Perspective on the Father Character
According to Lanthimos, the father in the film approaches his children with good intentions or at least tries to provide them with the best environment for their growth as he believes. However, at the same time, he tells the children legendary stories and builds fences around them that scare them. This way, the children dare not venture outside the house. Therefore, it can be said that Lanthimos positions the father character in a gray area.
Lanthimos’ Personal Family Experience
The director grew up only with his mother and lost her at the age of 17. We can say that Lanthimos’ ideas about the institution of the family were nourished by his own experiences in Dogtooth, growing up outside of a typical family life.
Anna Kalaitzidou and Christos Passalis joined the cast of this film after previously working with Lanthimos. The duo has their own theater group where they write and direct plays. Mary Tsoni was not a professional actress; she was a singer in a punk band called Mary and The Boy.
Dogtooth never becomes too dramatic and moves between tragedy, violence, and humor. If Lanthimos had made this film more dramatic without using humor, we could say that he pushed people towards a certain way of thinking instead of allowing them to think differently.
One of the director’s first choices was to make his actors behave like children. Rehearsals started after the actors were asked to forget what they thought about the film or the script. Lanthimos used this method to see the actors’ genuine reactions to the situations.
Real-life Event Similar to the Film
A real-life event that the team learned about during the film’s rehearsals is similar to the film’s script. Josef Fritzl, who kept his own daughter locked in the basement of his home for 24 years, was convicted of abduction and rape.
The Cassette Christina Brings Home
The cassette that Christina brings home from outside is from the famous boxing film, Rocky. Lanthimos said about this film and scene, “If you watch your first film after the age of 25, it creates a great impact.”
Last modified: July 9, 2023