The Power Of The Dog: Loneliness and the force of the touch in an isolating world

Power of The Dog Review

The power of the dog, by Jane Campion, seeks for touch in a world of distance, separation, and toughness.

What makes this movie so powerful?

Nominated in 12 categories The Power of The Dog has struck Hollywood hard. Considering that so many members of the Academy find it award-worthy, let´s take a look at what makes this movie so powerful? And what´s up with the dog?
Time to get a closer look at this masterpiece.

What is the story of The Power Of The Dog about?

The brothers Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George (Jesse Plemons), as well as his wife Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and her son Peter (Kodi Smit-Mcphee), live on a farm together. George and Rose have just been married. Phil is not happy about losing touch with his close friend and brother. Meanwhile, Peter, Roses’s son has a hard time adapting to the tough male image on the farm. He himself is a more gentle person, who is introduced folding flowers out of paper.

Touch and Materials in The Power Of The dog:

America is still wide and empty and the nearest touch of skin that Phil gets is the warmth of his horse or of a bull that he just so castrated.
Or of the saddle of his Idol Bronco Henry, that he handles and cleanses with care.
In general, it is a movie about touch.

George and Rose are not the only ones looking for love. NETFLIX © 2021

Hands caresse leather, tie rawhide carefully into a rope, and clean dust of metal as if it was the pure breast of their lovers.
It is a lonesome world that they live in. A world without love in which it is hard to find a partner to touch and hold close.

Phil loses his brother to Rose´s love and is not willing to give George up to her.

The Power Of The Dog explained :

[Attention Spoilers Ahead]

Our main character Phil is lost in a world of the past. In a time of wolves, cows, and dirt. He struggles with accepting the change that his near-death experience with Bronco Henry imprinted in him. When he was young Bronco and he survived a night in the cold only by warming each other with their bodies’ heat.
He tries to hide his homosexuality by isolating himself. In that way, he longs more and more for a human’s touch. Therefore his obsession with Broncos leather saddle is an outlet for his feelings.
When he gets closer to Pete they go on a ride together. As they see a rabbit hiding between a pile of wood Phil cuts his hand. Right before Pete has told him about his father, who hangs himself. The physical cuts mark the inner wound that Pete opened in Henry.

The ending explained:

otherPhil and Peter are getting to know each other. NETFLIX © 2021

Peter took the skin of a cow that has died of anthrax during his first ride alone. He carefully wore gloves because he knew about the disease.
When Phil and Peter finish the rope together, Peter hands Phil the rawhide of this sick animal. Since Phil’s hand has been cut before he infects himself with anthrax. Of course, Peter knew about this and proposed to use his rawhide on purpose.
Proof of this can be found in the funeral scene when the coroner tells George that Phil died of anthrax.
As Peter sees his mother and George come home after the funeral he is sure, that they all can be happy now, after Phil is gone.
Not enough proof?
When Peter tells Phil about finding his dead father he mentions: ” Dad always thought I was too hard. Not sensitive enough.” He is a cold-blooded killer who dissects and kills rabbits! And a surgeon.

The Power of The Dog Title:

The straightforward point is seen in the last scene with Peter.

Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

Book of Psalms, chapter 22

Phil’s character is the dog, which all the rest has been saved from.
Phil has been present in every character, most of the time without being present on the screen.

But there is more to it.

Rose is not the only one feeling seperated in 
Rose is not the only one feeling seperated in

The Dog is also the symbol that brings Peter and Phill together.
When they look at the mountains, Peter can see the dog-shaped shadows in them, which non of the cowhands can.
The dog makes Phil realize that he might think wrong about Pete.
And even if Peter killed Phil, Phil did not know about it. He, until his death, lives in the belief that Peter wanted to become like him.
By this, the murder of Phil becomes an act of sympathy. Just as Peter kills the rabbit who has a broken leg, to take him out of his misery.
And same as he caresses the rabbit and calms him before doing so.
Peter lets Phil feel a lover’s touch and gives him a feeling of importance and significance when so much is lost.

What did you think?

Don´t drink and ride!

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