Simultaneously elegiac and raw, this uneven--but unforgettable--tearjerker tells the story of Ingemar, a 12-year-old working-class Swedish boy sent to live with his childless aunt and uncle in a country village when his mo... more »ther falls ill. Beginning with several representations of the most savage, unsentimental domestic intensity imaginable (interplay between a sick parent and loving child has never looked anywhere near as explosive), My Life as a Dog wisely doesn't attempt to maintain that level of danger; rather, the change in locale to rural Sweden is accompanied by a slackening of pace and a whimsical breeziness. Nevertheless, the tragic condition of Ingemar's mother (and later, the indeterminate fate of Sickan, his beloved dog, consigned to a kennel) hovers over the narrative with a gripping portentousness. At times, director Lasse Hallström misplaces the rhythm, and the film threatens to degenerate into a series of rustic vignettes; luckily, Ingemar's relationship with Gunnar, the jocular yet somewhat sinister uncle who essentially adopts him, carries a fascinating charge. In Swedish, with subtitles. This was later rewritten, whether intentionally or not, by Spike Lee, who changed the gender of the child, set the story in New York City, added a 1970s soul soundtrack, and called it Crooklyn. --Miles Bethany« less
"This was so disappointing to me. "My Life as a Dog" was one of my all-time favorite films. I already had it on video, and wanted to have a cleaner copy on DVD, as well as some features.! IT IS NOT, I repeat, *NOT* WIDESCREEN! Worse, the transfer is grainy, and there seems to be little or no remastering. CRITERION would do a bang-up job on this film, it's just a shame that so many distributers can't get their act together and put a little effort into what they're doing.If you want to hear commentary, see it in its original film ratio, or even see a decent transfer for heaven's sake, go to Criterion's web-site and send them a message that you want to see this film done right.You might also go to Fox Lorber's web site, and let them know you expect more than VHS-on-a-disk. DVD, as a media, is in a critical state right now, and the studios are trying to see if the general public will accept bare-bones releases. We need to let them know that we won't."
The Criterion version came out March 11, 2003
Brian J. Dworak | Tennessee, USA | 03/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Any review of this DVD before that time is not worth evaluating. They may refer to the older DVD but they have nothing to do with the new Criterion. The Criterion is a far superior release in every way. The transfer is very nice, with warm colors and vibrant tones, albeit a tad soft at times. Audio is DD mono but serves it's purpose well. Extras include a 1973 film by the Director a new interview with him, a short essay by Kurt Vonnegut and the original trailer. Adults may want to screen this movie before letting their children view it as there are scenes with nudity and a few sexual situations. Then again if your kids watch foreign films then they are probably more mature than most! The only drawback I found was that about 45 minutes into the movie the subtitles start to lag behind the Swedish dialogue. This only lasts about two minutes but it can take you out of the story momentarily (hence 4 stars instead of 5). With that as the only caveat, there is no reason not to buy this wonderful new release of one of the very best childhood films ever made. Strongly recommended."
DVD quality is worst I've seen - get the video
alyosha | 08/02/1999
(1 out of 5 stars)
"One of my favorite flicks of all time (after seeing it on video), but the DVD quality couldn't be worse! Real poor, amateurish conversion. Desperately needs a redo. Give it to Criterion Collection and let them do it RIGHT!"
My favorite movie of all time.
alyosha | Seattle, WA United States | 08/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Few movies come this close to perfection. This is an intelligent and moving story of a boy who must come to terms with abandonment, loss and the casual betrayal of adults. Extremely well acted on all sides, with a bold script that dares to ask the important questions. Ingemar must try to find some balance in his life, as he is tossed from one "home" to another, like a stray dog... or, like the Soviet space-dog Laika, who was sent into space only to starve to death in orbit. "They never intended to bring her back." The final scenes of "My Life as a Dog" do win out, when the odd town's crazy old man takes a swim in the frozen river. The whole cast of peculiar town-folk come out to "rescue" him, and offer him a place by the fire, a blanket, a little whiskey... Here, Ingemar finds balance in the love of other people, so one is left, not with a sense of despair, but with a sense of hope in the midst of sorrow and loss.Note: I recommend the subtitled version over the dubbed version, as the language and inflections should be experienced in full."
Heartwarming Coming-of-Age Tale
Shirley Li | USA | 01/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""You have to compare," the hero of the charming yet poignant coming-of-age drama concludes, "so you can keep perspective. It helps to keep a little distance." A heartwarming story of growing pains, My Life as a Dog traces the tears and laughter of a thirteen-year-old Swedish boy struggling to find balance between the gravity of death and flamboyancy of youth. Carefully expanding the path of childhood through trials of time, director Lasse Hallstrom brings forth a moving tale unfolded in the eyes of Ingemar, a captivating boy whose heartfelt concerns for dogs burgeon into love for life. Inspired by the first dog sent into space by the USSR space program, Ingemar remains unscathed by life's tragedies as he bravely embarks on a journey to fit himself into a world of complexities. Stunningly portrayed by young actor Anton Glanzelius, the energetic, insightful, and often-troubled hero comes alive seeking joy of a sad life as his mother lies dying. Even as Ingemar and his brother are sent away to different relatives in the summer to allow their weakening mother rest, Ingemar is constantly haunted by memories of a mother with a "robust, sexy laugh" who never grows tired of his stories. Ingemar temporarily finds peace in his eccentric uncle's house as he shyly steps into the light and befriends a pretty young tomboy portrayed by Melinda Kenneman, who leads a contradictory life herself trying to cope with her growing sexual urges while maintaining a tough image on the soccer team as well as boxing floor. Focussing on Ingemar's sympathy for deserted creatures such as Laika, who was left to die in space, as well as his own mutt Sikan later died in the kennel, the director skillfully narrows in on life's details drawing powerful parallels between Ingemar's alienation and the dogs' desertion. Almost taking pleasure in the ruggedness of growing-up, Glanzélius's Ingemar never ceases to find himself trapped in troubles-whether it is setting fire on trash dumps, spilling milk on himself, or crashing through the glass roof attempting to steal a glimpse of a model in nude. While peacefully observing a world in motion from the persecptive of an outsider, Ingemar gradually blends into a rural community and finds himself an inseparable part of the town's lighthearted approach to hardships after the death of her mother. Deemed not as simple tale of maturing, My Life as a Dog presents the bittersweet flavor of childhood through the clear eyes of a bittersweet boy. Despite few awkward transitions and scenes of sexual awakenings, this film touches the human heart and produces a vague echo in audiences' memories. Complemented with superb casting, My Life as a Dog refocuses society's view on children who see the world through a totally unique perspective. Of course, our hero's perspective undergoes the transition from a deserted dog to that of a human surrounded by life's warm pleasures."