My Dog Tulip

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Dogstar's avatar
Animated Enthusiast
Posts: 16
Reviews: 34

So, it seems Keyframe is struggling with how to review My Dog Tulip. When I first saw the movie I wanted to give the film 2 and 1/2 stars because it fit my bill of my 2 and a 1/2 movie. I give 2 and 1/2 stars to film that were overall good but had a couple of either major content problems and/or style promblems, which MDT certainly had. However, there was an underlying uniquness and a touch of greatness that made me want to rate it 3 or 3 and a 1/2. But I will still torn, I could never quite settle on a rating, so I read the book. Although I didn't love the book as much as Lupercal, I still thought the book was a pretty wonderful and astounding piece of literature. It was better than the movie. However, this made the movie even harder to rate because the movie did some really great things with the book and some not so great things.

Enough of my rambling. Anyway, I think the only solution is to re-watch the movie after I finish my finals. Though if Athena or Lupe put up a review before then I'll probably avoid it, as my opinion on the movie is fragile enough and I don't want it getting swayed.

lupercal's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Posts: 304
Reviews: 517

Maybe I should just review the book Undecided





Actually here is my review of the book, from 2001.

'43 out of 44 people found it 'helpful'.



I think My Dog Tulip is possibly the best book about dogs I have ever read. It doesn't surprise me to see that Elizabeth Marshall Thomas (The Hidden Life of Dogs) has written the introduction to the current edition, as Ackerley opened up some of the territory she was to explore. They remind me of each other quite a lot.

In the first scene of My Dog Tulip, Ackerley meets a little old lady wheeling a little dog around the park in a pram. The dog is dressed up in a blanket and she is cooing to him like an invalid. It's obvious that this highly anthropomorphised canine is the sort of dog Ackerley wants NOT to portray. He commented at the time that he wanted to restore beastliness to beasts, and as E.M. Forster put it, Tulip is 'a dog of dogdom', not just 'an appendage of man.'

My Dog Tulip lampoons the British middle class as well as human anthropocentrism in general. Ackerley's technique of combining shocking subject matter with a genteel, decorous prose style is always a joy to read. It's also definately the main reason he managed to get away with publishing this book in 1956. It's no small measure of the success of this balancing act, that a book which still manages to upset a minority of readers in 2001 was published in 1956 to general critical acclaim.

What you get, if you buy My Dog Tulip, is a very detailed account of Ackerley's life with his dog Queenie (he changed the name to Tulip, only after it was suggested to him that 'Queenie' might cause some tittilation, as Ackerley had been a somewhat outspoken member of London's gay community for some time). At times it is hilarious - never more so than when he's poking fun at English propriety. At other times it is very touching, and at others there is a barely concealed anger against human arrogance. Yes, there are many, detailed descriptions of canine bodily functions - one chapter is titled 'Liquids and solids'. In my view Ackerley pulls this off with complete dignitiy, even if I'm reminded of Salvador Dali explaining to a shocked society lady how he covers himself with filth when he paints, but in order to attract "only the cleanest flies."

When the real Queenie died, Ackerley was devestated, and never really recovered. The greatest achievement of My Dog Tulip is its final chapter 'The Turn of the Screw', where suddenly the style of the writing changes; the comic veneer is dropped, and suddenly all the imagery about life, death and reproduction make sense. Tulip is still with him, but time is against them. It is one of the most beautiful and moving ruminations on mortality that I've read.

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