My Life as a Dog
The Criterion Collection
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My Life as a Dog (Mitt liv som hund) tells the story of Ingemar, a twelve-year-old from a working-class family sent to live with his uncle in a country village when his mother falls ill. There, the boy finds both refuge from his misfortunes and unexpected adventure with the help of the town’s warmhearted eccentrics. Featuring an incredibly mature and unaffected performance from the young Anton Glanzelius, this is a beloved and bittersweet evocation of the struggles and joys of childhood from Oscar-nominated director Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules).
Shall We Go to My or Your Place or Each Go Home Alone? (1973), a fifty-two-minute film by Hallström
Video interview with Hallström from 2003
Original theatrical trailer
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson and an appreciation by the late author Kurt Vonnegut
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The transfer was done from a 35mm interpositive and preserved in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 On a standard 16:9 television, it will display the complete frame in pillarboxed format. Nothing seems to have been cropped out, in some scenes evidence of a slightly dirty camera gate can be seen, assuring the viewer that they are getting the entire frame contents. Colors are rich and excellent throughout most scenes, and very well timed. Bright scenes seem to have fared best in this transfer, and either due to the choices made by the operator, or the limitations of the equipment, dark scenes are at times plagued with poor contrast and what appears to be several stops of digital gain added in post-production. If I had to guess, I would submit that these scenes should have been scanned with higher analog gain to achieve the needed brightness, as it is the apparent digital gain makes these dark scenes rather noisy and artifact-ridden.
Several otherwise well transferred scenes suffer from pulsing and flicker, again if I were to guess I'd suspect that it was degradation of the film that caused this. It looks a lot like one side of the reel had an emulsion issue, but hard to say. I also suspect that in the post-processing they probably did the best they could in reducing it to whatever extent possible. Noise reduction is excellent, and reveals that this film, or at least this interpositive is quite a grainy affair, with few scene exceptions. I have no idea what the original film stock was (some sort of Fuji?), or if it was particularly fast film, but the amount of grain is truly surprising and really adds to the feel of this movie. I'm particularly glad that they did not allow this to be smoothed out or overly compressed, you really do get the feeling every last bit of detail in the film made it through the transfer.
Dirt, scratches, and other things seem to have been painstakingly removed and overall, this is a very excellent transfer. I think that with perhaps the exception of what I suspect to be poor digital capture of the dark scenes, and subsequent digital gain pushing it would be hard to do anything better than this effort, unless there is some other interpositive out there in better condition. I somewhat doubt that notion, as the director Lasse Hallström approved this re-release himself. And of course, there is the possibility that I am completely wrong about the cause of the poor dark scene contrast and gain. Either way, despite a few rough spots, you're not going to find a better transfer of this around. I wish I had my old DVD copy of the first release to compare how those dark scenes were handled.
Packaging of the disc is small, but fairly nice. A fairly hefty booklet is full of interesting tidbits and photos.
He is deeply disturbed, deeply troubled but his mother's illness forces him to stay a while in a village full of....well, folks who are a little off...who would not fit in...AND there he finds a home.
The voice over reflections are wonderful and one of them is about the film title - a reference to the Soviet's practice of sending dogs up in space capsules- a trip to nowhere.
Funny, poignant and complex.