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Mondo Cane (1962)
Mondo cane (1962; English: A Dog's World) is a documentary written and directed by Italian filmmakers Paolo Cavara, Franco Prosperi and Gualtiero Jacopetti. The film consists of a series of travelogue vignettes that provide glimpses into cultural practices around the world with the intention to shock or surprise Western film audiences. These scenes are presented with little continuity, as they are intended as a kaleidoscopic display of shocking content rather than presenting a structured argument. Despite its claims of genuine documentation, certain scenes in the film are either staged or creatively manipulated to enhance this effect. Mondo cane was an international box-office success and inspired the production of numerous, similar exploitation documentaries, many of which also include the word "Mondo" in their title. These films collectively came to be recognized as a distinct genre known as mondo films. In addition, the film's success led Jacopetti and Prosperi to produce several additional documentaries, including Mondo cane 2, Africa addio, and Addio zio Tom, while Cavara directed La donna nel mondo, Malamondo, as well as the anti-Mondo drama Wild Eye.
Never mind the cannibals: There's Catholics in this movie!?
Kidding aside, Mondo Cane (literally Life of a Dog) was once a notorious documentary and a forerunner of Faces of Death, which would arrive 16 years later. But putting aside the shocking box cover, Mondo is awfully tepid today. Sure, cameras capture the bludgeoning of a pig and the force-feeding of a goose, but most of the scenes of 'shock and horror' border on stupid. We're talking scenes of drunken Germans staggering home the morning after a bender, a car crushing junkward, and old women dancing. This is not Faces of Death. Some of this is documentary footage, some is re-enacted. God knows why.
Shock cinema historians may find some amusement here (and in the umpteen sequels that followed -- an eight-disc DVD collection is available), but average cinemagoers will be confused and bored, while shock seekers will come away deeply disappointed.
As a side note, believe it or not, the film is an Oscar nominee: for Best Song. The DVD case conveniently says it's an Oscar winner, just a slight exaggeration in a film that's full of them.