There were barks of excitement on Sunday morning at Cambridge Arts Picturehouse as around 50 well-behaved dogs joined their owners to watch a preview of Wes Anderson’s new film, Isle of Dogs. They were provided by staff with blankets, biscuits and water and given a special pre-recorded welcome from the director himself: ‘we extend our thanks to your dogs for joining us.’
Dogs of all shapes and sizes leaned over cinema seats to make friends – the one behind us said hello by licking my ear. There was a bit of territorial barking during the adverts, but as soon as the film started both humans and dogs really got into it. Isle of Dogs is wonderful – a superbly inventive, visually astounding, funny and fresh animated adventure.
The film is set in a dystopian future Japan, in which a cat-loving dictator tries to get rid of all canines, and a 12 year old boy named Atari searches for his lost pet, Spots.
Perhaps the dogs we were watching the film with were film-buffs, because they really did seem to respond to the action on screen. At times of dire doggy peril there were outbreaks of whimpering. But when Chief, Rex, Spots and the others fought back, there were barks and yaps of encouragement, the big cheerleader down the front setting off the chihuahua at the back.
And when the humans clapped at the end of the film, their dogs joined in with a chorus of canine approval.