Full disclosure: I thought I wasn’t going to like Isle of Dogs. I assumed it would be abstract and weird and that the animation would make me feel uncomfortable, the same way that Barbie dolls used as decorations on cakes makes me feel uncomfortable.
Alas, I was happily disappointed to find that the film was nothing of the sort.
Directed by Wes Anderson, Isle of Dogs follows 12 year-old boy Atari (Koyu Rankin), known by his furry companions as ‘The Little Pilot’, as he ventures from the Japanese mainland to an island filled with trash. Trash and dogs.
Mayor of Megasaki City and apparent lover of cats, Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), has decreed that dogs are akin to rubbish and therefore must be exiled and erased. He sends them all to an island filled with garbage and leaves them there to die.
Atari befriends a pack of dogs that help him on his quest and the relationship that develops between them is quite extraordinary. Through their rapport, Wes Anderson captures the love shared between man and dog and successfully uses this idea to draw emotion from the audience.
Isle of Dogs is different in that it switches between both the English and Japanese languages, without always providing a translation. This deliberate act is a clever reminder that we do not need to speak the same language in order to understand one another.
The animation used throughout the film is exceptional and perfectly captures the emotions of the characters. It is not a form of animation that we come across very often, but it is delivered here with finesse and incredible detail. Though Isle of Dogs is centred around a more serious tone, it still presented us with some well-timed humour that had the cinema laughing collectively.
Isle of Dogs pleasantly surprised me with its thought-provoking content, interesting characters and divergent storyline. It is definitely one to watch if you are in the mood for something different and for a film that makes you think.
This is the longest stop-motion film of all time, beating out Coraline (2009) by two minutes.