1001 Flicks

Regularly updated blog charting the most important films of the last 104 years.

Monday, April 05, 2010

382. Mondo Cane (A Dog's Life) (1962)

Directed By Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti, and Franco Prosperi


The film shows several shocking or absurd scenes from around the world in a "documentary" style.


Blurring the lines between documentary and fiction Mondo Cane is a really hard film to make up your mind about. Is it simply a commentary on the voyeurism of documentary cinema? Is it a slightly racist shock-fest? Is it an exercise on the idea of documental truth?

Well you can take it as you like, but it is definitely a powerful film which not only makes you feel depressed about human nature but also manipulates the viewer in their most basic feelings, and which is at the same time admirable and disgusting. In purely technical terms it is extremely well filmed and some close ups of faces are almost prefiguring later Italian film-makers such as Sergio Leone, seeing faces as ugly landscapes.

The film is extremely nihilistic in its outlook, while at times there might be a sense of some racism inherent in the exoticisation of the foreign as with the Papua New Guinea scenes, the film seems to be an equal-opportunity offender as European and American people are equally mocked and treated with paternalistic condescension. Of course most of the things in the film aren't really real, or are at least puffed-up versions of what is actually happening in order to serve the film's purpose. The lack of context in most scenes helps the film's end of portraying humanity as beyond the pale, but is ultimately unfair. If this is a commentary on the limits of documentary film-making it is indeed a poignant criticism, if not it shows dishonesty, but it is in any way a truly enlightening film.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

As well as encouraging sequels, Mondo Cane's shock-exploitation-documentary-exquisite corpse style is credited with starting a whole genre: the Mondo film. Examples of mondo film include Mondo Bizarro, Mondo Daytona, Mondo Mod, Mondo Infame and Mondo Hollywood; later examples include the Faces of Death series.

Happy Easter:


  • At 2:52 AM, Blogger Sycorax Pine said…

    Ah yes! I just watched this one about a month ago. It is the first film I have ever seen that spontaneously compelled me to cry "What the F%*$???" about every 5-10, with escalating agitation, for its entire duration. So I had to conclude that, offensive thought it may be, it did its job with amazing efficacy - it appalled and perplexed in equal measure.


Post a Comment

<< Home