09 March 2011

Movies: A Boy and His Dog (1975)

A Boy and His Dog (1975) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072730/

A post-apocalyptic sci-fi comedy/drama starring pre-Miami Vice Don Johnson, about the boy Vic (Johnson) and his dog Blood. Blood is the voice of reason and has some of the best lines in the film, contrasted with Vic's tendency to be ruled by his genitals.

Set after world war IV, which lasted only the 5 days it took for every nuclear nation to unleash every nuke in their arsenal upon each other, leaving the world a wasteland. Blood is intelligent, wise, can understand human speech and can communicate telepathically with Vic, for reasons not entirely known or ever really explained.  As a team, Vic gathers food for himself and Blood, Blood acts as recon for various situations, and also finds women so Vic can get laid.

The world looks very much like the one we see in The Road Warrior - barren desert wasteland.  People are scavengers, either going Solo, or roving around in groups.  Women are very scarce. Some places still operate as towns, where foodstuffs are traded for treats such as old movies and popcorn. There are irradiated creatures about called Screamers. They probably used to be human, but now they moan and glow green, and everyone is afraid of them.

We find out that some civilization stayed underground, where they continue to go through the motions of life before WW IV. Due to resource constraints they are very careful about population balance and colony harmony. Folks who step out of line go to the farm. And by 'go to the farm' they mean 'meet an untimely death' - usually written off as some sort of accident or disease.  Due to the nature of being a closed underground society the men are sterile and they need new genetic material from time to time, to keep the population going.

Which brings us back to the boy Vic and his dog. This underground civilization has chosen Vic to be the father of their next generation, and Vic willingly agrees to impregnate their women.  Blood, meanwhile, refuses to go underground.

Yes, the film is from 1975, shot on a small budget, and looks like it. Despite the small budget the movie is put together rather well. It is a classic post-apocalyptic film in that its look has been reused many times by films since. Based on a Harlan Ellison story, it serves as a commentary on the times via a look at the pessimistic outcome of a nuclear world war. A very real possibility many of us lived with growing up during the height of the Cold War, so this movie will surely be viewed and interpreted differently by folks born in the 80s and later.

Plenty of dry humor, a little bit of gunplay, somewhat pessimistic and borderline misogynistic.  Still a fun watch to this day, despite the age of the film. I dread the day someone tries to remake this film.  There is something positive to be said for the simplicity, the lack of clutter, which allows some of the deeper messages come through.  Chances are a modern remake would concentrate on wowing the audience's visual and aural cortexes, leaving the truly entertaining portions by the wayside.

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