Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Quinn cleverly mixes the natural playfulness of the animal with more sinister inclination."

Showing as part of EIFF 2017's Brexit-inspired retrospective, Joanna Quinn's satirical, line-drawn animation about the rise and fall of the British Empire is as cutting about the country's sense of identity now as it was when she made it in 1993.

Like, Britain, which will also screen at EIFF in the same short film showcase, she uses a classic symbol of Britishness to explore her theme - in this case, a British bulldog. He's the proud pet of a woman (Christine Pritchard), who sounds an awful lot like a hybrid of celebrity dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse and a certain former long-standing prime minister of this realm. The bulldog initially sits on a map of the British Isles and, under instruction from his owner, Quinn cleverly mixes the natural playfulness of the animal with more sinister inclinations, to show him pouncing on the various parts of Britain to bring them under control, before nailing on the Union Jack.

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With a cry of, "Walkies", we get to see the Empire expansion take place, with the Bulldog treating the world as a plaything, shaking it and reaping riches or simply terrorising those elsewhere. Quinn has the moves of the dog nailed down but it's her ability to undercut the comedy with the dog's nastier side that makes it stick in the mind. What she reveals is not just a potted history of colonialism but also a consideration of the character of 'proud Britain' in its darker instincts - at the time it was made, surely an indictment of the Margaret Thatcher era and still relevant in the Brexit landscape of the UK today.

If you can't get to EIFF, you can watch the film below:

Reviewed on: 12 Jun 2017
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Animation about British imperialism.

Director: Joanna Quinn

Writer: Joanna Quinn

Starring: Christine Pritchard, Ben Heneghan

Year: 1993

Runtime: 5 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2017
London 2017

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