March 26, 2010

The City and the Dogs (Francisco J. Lombardi, 1985)

The City and the Dogs, based on the popular novel of the same name by Mario Vargas Llosa, is an allegory of power in South America. After his friend, "the Slave" is killed, "the Poet," a cadet in a military institution, brings the matter to the attention of Gamboa, the officer in charge, who will try, and fail, to reopen the inquiry on the boy’s death. The film serves as a microcosm, effectively presenting the  colonial state of mind to blame for South America’s (and, to a larger extent, the Third-world’s) constant instability. To Isaac Léon Frias, this is characteristic of the director’s work:

In The City and the Dogs, as in all of Lombardi’s films, the story develops situations of extreme violence in order to emphasize social conflicts, injustice, and authoritarian hierarchies.

The segregation of the children into groups like the Circle crowded around the Jaguar evokes the social separations that often occur in real life. By mimicking society, these children mimic their social future, ostensibly repeating past mistakes.

Although there aren’t many shots of exteriors, we can glimpse the Andes terrain in the ones that are there and the goat which constantly appears serves to remind us of the setting. The underwhelming representation of Peru in the cinematic landscape seems to demand that special focus."