Why it’s famous
Isle of Dogs—set in a future dystopian Japan where canines are banished to Trash Island by the tyrannical Mayor Kobayashi—is a stop-motion animation which follows the tale of a young boy, Atari, who ventures to find his exiled canine best friend, Spot.
The movie has a phenomenal cast, which, among others, consisted of Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and Yoko Ono.
Written and directed by Wes Anderson, Isle of Dogs is the latest creation of a filmmaker-mastermind, and mogul. With Fantastic Mr. Fox as Anderson’s first animation in 2009, many fans anticipated the release of his second stop-motion film and were not disappointed by the astonishing results from the auteur.
Why you haven’t seen it
Despite the esteemed director, Isle of Dogs falls short of the attention that it deserves. This may be because both stop-motion and animation have stigmas of being genres for children and a younger audience more generally.
Due to these assumptions, many tend to overlook such films, disregarding their artistry, intricacy, cinematography, and moral lessons.
Why it might be tough to get through
Anderson experiments with linguistics, so the Japanese dialogue predominantly foregoes subtitles. Yet, though widely criticised, such a decision merely reflects the dogs’ mutual incomprehension of the language which Atari speaks.
While seeming to be an arduous encumbrance for the audiences to solve, Isle of Dogs contains an animated cast primarily consisting of English-speaking canines. Therefore, despite being a tad befuddling, it is no hindrance, as some scenes are subtitled, and in the others, the basic gist of the scene can be easily understood.
Why you should see it anyway
Stop-motion is arguably one of the most fascinating film genres, because it requires years of talent, skill, and elaborate elements being poured into the very construction of its animation. Plus, beyond the eye-catching aesthetic of Anderson’s creation, Isle of Dogs is also riddled with significant morals to teach both young—and older—audiences, including friendship, loyalty, justice, and equality.
One of Anderson’s most political films yet, Isle of Dogs also contains notable subtexts throughout its runtime. As one New Yorker columnist points out, there is a not-so-subtle reflection on the current “xenophobic, racist, and demagogic strains of contemporary American politics,” mirrored through the oppressive dictator of Megasaki and his deportation of the dogs.
As the handiwork of Wes Anderson, one should not miss this adventure comedy animation. If you appreciate cinematic and visually stunning landscapes, and—just as importantly—if you like canines and their mischievous behaviour, then this movie is for you.
Nutmeg: Will you help him, the little pilot?
Chief: Why should I?
Nutmeg: Because he’s a twelve-year-old boy—dogs love those.
– The title Isle of Dogs is a wordplay on ‘I love dogs.’
– Isle of Dogs is the second longest stop-motion animation, comprised of around 144,000 frames in a 101-minute film.
– A total of 1,000 clay puppets—500 human and 500 dogs—were created by a team of 70 artists.