DOGTOOTH (2009)

            “A lie that is half truth is the                                     darkest of all lies.”

                                         – Tennyson

Proverbs for paranoids #4: You may never touch the Master, but you may tickle his creatures. 

At the beginning of Dogtooth, three people are living within a fictional universe, one which does not extend beyond the boundaries of their back yard. Their world is a strange delusion, dreamed up by their Father, part Pinochet, part Big Bird. They are children with the bodies of swimsuit models. He drives to work and he drives back. He sometimes brings home a woman to sexually service his son. The children have never seen the outside world. They think Frank Sinatra is their grandfather. Any vision of the world beyond is explained away in ever more elaborate fantasising. 

The children are incredible creations, automatons who cannot help bursting into primal paroxysms of emotion. The parents, too, treat any insubordination with unconditional sadism. The Eldest daughter begins to unravel some of her Father’s conceits, thanks to some illicit videotapes. She engages in sex acts with the visitor, licking her ‘keyboard’ in exchange for gifts. And she viciously attacks her brother with a hatchet. Such violence is the natural reaction of the trapped. We wish to Christ that she will bludgeon her father with something, or drown him in the pool. But you may never touch the Master.

There is a subtle undercurrent in Dogtooth that all of what occurs may have happened before. The children talk to a brother ‘beyond the wall’. They throw him cake. When a cat invades the garden, their father insinuates that their brother has been torn to pieces. Another fantasy, or a necessary explanation? Either way, this particular fact could go unnoticed, but it raises a crucial point: a child has already escaped, or has vanished in some way, and the parents have continued, irregardless. A child has already escaped, slipped the system, yet life will go on, and so will the fabrication.

Even if we get away from the backyard, into the outside world, where the truth lies, we are merely to find ourselves trapped in a new and more desperate way. And in a world where even language is used to control, rebellion can only be self-immolating. We may discover the truth, the strange twilit truth, but any action against the liars and the thieves can only result in perpetual cycles of violence, and ultimate betrayal. In Pluto’s allegory, any action against the shadows cast upon the wall are still just that: scratching blindly at shadows, yet still in darkness.
And ignorance is only perversion to some; to others, it is a state of true bliss. 

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