Dogtooth is a 2009 Greek film by director Yorgos Lanthimos that introduces a family whose children and mother never leaves the luxurious and remote villa they live in. In fact, the parents have elaborated a world limited to the house and the garden, the outside being defined as extremely dangerous, only accessible by car when one looses his(her) dogtooth. The children are continuously associated with dogs to the point that the father gives a class of self-defense that consists in learning how to bark.
The reference to the Marquis de Sade and his 120 Days of Sodom (1785) and its cinematographic adaptation, Salo (1975) by Pier Paolo Pasolini is clearly assumed in the relationship between the father and his children and the territoriality of this Sadian domination. On the contrary the mother seems to be more associated with the contractual Masochian relationship with her husband as she is aware of the perpetual lie she lives in and that she contributes too, but accept her prisoner condition without ever questioning it.
The movie intervene in the life of those children (who seem to be between 17 and 20 years old) when one of them, influenced by some rare exterior influences, starts to develop a curiosity if not an awareness of the outside world that would lead to her final emancipation. Nevertheless, it is important to observe that this emancipation seems to intervene within the illusion as before running away from the house, the girl character who named herself Bruce (when her parents, sister and brother calls her only “the eldest”), breaks her tooth as a sign of her sufficient maturity.
This film can therefore be interpreted as a political metaphor of a societal emancipation of a class or gender dominated by another that sustain this condition by the composition of a specific imaginary. However, this emancipation from “within” prevents the idea of a revolution that would dissipates the illusion provided by this imaginary but rather imagines this new status as necessarily acquired within the limits offered by one’s field of understanding of the world.