Ulrich Seidl – Hundstage AKA Dog Days (2001)

Dog Days is an incredible film, though what it has to offer will certainly not be appreciated by every viewer. This is not to be meant as condescending – I simply mean not everyone will enjoy Ulrich Seidl’s aesthetics which have more than a little in common with Von Trier’s Domga 95 movement. Though Seidl doesn’t explicitly articulate his aesthetics the way Von Trier does, it features the same sense of realism. The characters are mostly non-actors wearing their own clothes and without makeup (except where diegetically necessary). The acting is very raw with many scenes calling for displays of intense emotional pain. There is no non-diegetic music. The film is shot entirely with hand-held DV. The film is, however, very aesthetically appealing. There are many beautiful, sun-drenched compositions, even if all the characters are sweating!

Contrary to a previous reviewer, I believe Seidl means for the title “Dog Days” to denote intense, unbearable heat of summer. He shot only on days where the weather exceeded 98 degrees. This alone required a number of years to complete the film. Seidl has said that he believes, under the pressure of intense heat, people’s emotional and mental states change. However, the heat isn’t central to any of the stories. It just serves to heighten what are already miserable tales of suburban life. Where a situation might be tough for a character, the extreme heat pushes it over the edge.

The stories are fascinating and frequently depressing. Many can be generalized as unhappy people making other unhappy people (and themselves) unhappy. This is the kind of story Dogma 95 directors love because it provides so many opportunities to show raw emotion. If that doesn’t sound pleasant, this is probably not going to be an enjoyable film for you. Others may find it deeply engrossing. If you’re a fan of Von Trier or other such directors, you’ll love Dog Days. Zavattini and Rossellini would be proud.

2.05GB | 2h 01m | 712×576 | mkv



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