Movie : Being a Dog
Director : Felix Swahn
“Was he an animal, that music could move him so? He felt as if the way to the unknown nourishment he longed for was coming to light.”
– Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis
Felix Swahn in the most dexterous fashion weaves a tale about transformation. A sort of metamorphosis triggered by immediate events. The story revolves around Tim.
A lovelorn soul lost in the labyrinthine contours of existence. He is surrounded by rejection and indifference. He is the perfect representation of TS Eliot’s Prufrock. He somehow feels detached from the society he is a part of. He is an outsider, a pariah looking for an abode where he can feel secure. Oscillating around such repugnance, Tim struggles to properly assign a cogent structure to his life. The director draws references from Franz Kafka’s much talked about story , ‘Metamorphosis’. Where Gregor Samsa turned into an insect out of a certain sense of anxiety and tedium, Tim turns into a dog. The moments when Tim is driven away from regular existence, he transforms into Bulldog.
Tim’s meandering existence, his anxious
musings find solace in Ginger. Ginger, the most gleeful tale in the life of Tim. A friend whom he once loved. Ginger’s company makes Tim forget about the infinite drudgeries of life. Tim is in the most secure space around Ginger.
In an often ruthless and indifferent world, Tim finds the most innocent kind of mirth around Ginger. After reigniting their friendship post a conversation, Tim transforms into a dog again. However, this time Tim decides to explore the myriad facets around being a dog. Tim decides to believe for a moment that being a dog might just be a blessing in disguise. He wants to see the world from the eyes of a dog and probably for the first time have fun being a dog.
The story is the driving force in the movie. The writing appears adroit and full of keen observations about the world we live in. The dialogues are realistic and the portrayals appear flawless. There is a perpetual sense of desolation in the movie. A pervading loneliness that has grasped everyone in its labyrinthine pangs of agony. A domain where happiness is short lived and can only be found around moments, glances, whispers of affection.
The astute animation adds to the gloom that dominates the narrative. It successfully portrays the divide between the machine (tall buildings and factories) and the human (Tim). The bleak nature of the story becomes evident.
However, there is a glimmer of hope towards the end. Perhaps a moment similar to Sisyphus realizing that he can still be happy even for a negligible couple of seconds.
The elements (the smoke, the tall buildings, the indifferent conversations, the isolated man, the bridge) appear to have perfectly tied the story together.
Tim, like Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s Metamorphosis, is a product of his times. The metamorphosis is not one initiated by choice. It is one initiated by the effect of the people around them. The society in a larger context. The dog becomes a metaphor for the unrealised emotions of Tim. The violent urges that Tim chose not to acknowledge. Tim embraced them when he believed he became a dog. A state that assured Tim that he would not be recognised.
Being a dog succeeds in its honesty. There is no veneer of falsity in it. It is a tale sans much glorification or romanticism.
Tim is an everyman. The transformation is metaphorical for most. When one is pushed to the extreme corner, he explodes and becomes something completely different – either very violent or too servile. Being a dog for many would be the blissful road of ignorance. To forget and be happy even if for a fraction of a second.