Review: White Bim Black Ear

Genre: Animal Drama

Stanislav Rostotsky’s 1977 hit film is sweet as cake. But eat cake for three hours and you’ll feel sick. It has received many awards in its time, but the pacing of the plot was already weighed down enough.

White Bim Black Ear follows the life of an oddly-coloured dog, Bim, who struggles when his owner is rushed to a Moscow hospital far away. In his searches, Bim is helped and hindered by all manner of humans, from friendly neighbours to evil collar-collectors.

Straight off the bat, this film features on-point performances.  Ivan Ivanovich (Vyacheslav Tikhonov) is a thoughtfully presented and sympathetic older man who has known loss and loves his dog dearly- an unusual character archetype that is interesting to see. Bim (uncredited) utterly loveable at all times and trained as well as Toto. The film displays touching moments, and presents a clear moral- life is for loving- not to be wasted on conflict or misery. Yet however heart-warming it might be, vast gaps between worthwhile moments leave the viewer tepid.  A three hour length, with multiple re-used plot points and contrived-feeling conflicts leave the mind to wonder. The villains are one-dimensional- a prissy neighbour never stops trying to get Bim taken away with the flimsy motivation of her being uptight. She only becoming more annoying with time. This length also dilutes meaning in the film. It brushes upon post-war trauma, corruption caused by money and other real issues, but quickly shies away, retreating to… more cute dog shots. Regular sections of Bim journeying through harsh countryside mirrors the audience’s experiences getting to the brilliant bits of this film. Ivan sums it up perfectly when told by the doctor:

”We’ll have to keep you here.”

“No, please professor!”

White Bim has beautiful moments, but they are drowned in cute, overwhelming fluff.

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