Warning: major SPOILERS for The power of the dog before!
The power of the dog the meaning of the title becomes clear in the final moments of the film, in which Peter is seen reading a Bible verse. Written and directed by Jane Campion, The power of the dog was a darling of the film festival circuit, garnering awards from the San Sebastian Film Festival, Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival and already earning plenty of buzz at the Oscars. However, despite the praise, there remains a sense of mystery surrounding what exactly is The power of the dog actually means.
The power of the dog stars Benedict Cumberbatch (recent star of The Electric Life of Louis Wain), as Phil Burbank, a charismatic, super-macho rancher living in the sprawling landscape of Montana in 1925. Phil is grieved by his brother’s marriage to a local widow, Rose (played by Kirsten Dunst), and his disapproval of the union weighs heavily on Rose and Phil’s brother, George, but the biggest victim of Phil’s wrath is Rose’s son, Peter. A maker of paper flowers and a gentle spirit, Peter becomes Phil’s scapegoat and suffers the greatest outpouring of Phil’s torment until Peter discovers Phil’s greatest secret and their relationship changes dramatically. Following its theatrical release in mid-November, the film is now available to stream on Netflix.
After Phil’s death, Peter (played by the x-men films’ Kodi Smit-McPhee) is seen sitting on his bed reading the Bible. There in the text is the title of the film, found in the book of Psalms, chapter 22 (via Bible gateway):”Deliver my soul from the sword; my dog power darling.” Although the implication is that Phil is the dog and the rest of the characters are saved from his power by his death, there are many more correlations to be made from the context of the verse and the surrounding biblical chapter that give more insight. ‘information on The power of the dog.
What “The Power of the Dog” Means: Bible Verse Explained
While the verse seen in the film may seem simple, the “Power” referenced in Psalms 22:20 remains largely mysterious. It is understood that the dog in the text is Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in The power of the dog, but its power remains elusive and subject to the viewer’s interpretation, but it is undoubtedly present. George walks on eggshells around him, unable to reveal his true feelings or thoughts for fear of ridicule; The rose withers like a thirsty flower The power of the dog, descending into dark alcoholism, and the gentle, artistic Peter becomes a murderer by the end of the film. The “dog” has the power – yet the power is merely suggested, never executed.
In The power of the dog Phil is calm, delivering a few stoic lines at a time in true classic western style. Phil is non-confrontational, hiding in rooms with his banjo and letting his absence speak louder than his presence, but he exerts an intense psychological force on the film’s other characters that is both gentle and vicious. This leads to the conclusion that the power referred to in The power of the dog is a psychological force rather than a physical one.
Phil’s power comes from bringing people down, an idea which is reinforced by the earlier verses in Psalms chapter 22: 6-7, “But I am a worm, and not a man; reproached by men and despised by the people. Everyone who sees me laughs at me: they pull their lips, they shake their heads…” Phil burns Peter’s paper flowers and whistles from a window while hiding in his bedroom to let Rose know he’s watching her. He plays Rose’s piano piece perfectly on his banjo without ever saying a word and calls for his brother George (played by Jesse Plemons of the recent Movie Antlers), “fat, “ emotionally abusing others until their view of themselves is their greatest enemy. It’s Phil’s ability to tackle the shortcomings and insecurities of others, making them question their worth and feel like “towards”– it’s the dog “Power” from The power of the dog.
What power does the bible verse of the dog mean to Peter
Interestingly, the verse behind The power of the dog reflects the prayer of Jesus since his crucifixion. Psalm 22 begins with the verse “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? — Famous words of Jesus on the cross. In verse 16 he says:For dogs surrounded me, the assembly of the wicked enclosed me, they pierced my hands and my feet. This leads to the idea that The power of the dog projects the character played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (who also stars alongside dopesick Peter Sarsgaard in the series Examination) as a Christ-like figure.
Like the heckling in verse 7 and the reference in verse 16 to bullying by “dogs,” the chapter further correlates Phil’s treatment of Peter in The power of the dog in verses 12-13:Many bulls surrounded me: mighty bulls of Bashan surrounded me. They opened my mouth like a hungry, roaring lion.This verse ties in with the scene in which the cowboys hover around Peter and taunt him at Phil’s request. Yet, although there may be similarities between Peter in The power of the dog and Jesus, like the idea that the two were outcasts, the Christ projection of murderer Peter seems a bit ambitious.
Who is the “darling” in power of the end of the dog?
If Phil is the “dog” of the Bible verse, which is the verse “Dear?” Peter’s mother, Kirsten Dunst’s Rose, is the most obvious answer because Peter is the one with the Bible when the verse is shown and he says at the start of the movie that he is looking to save it. This idea is reinforced by the final scene in which Peter watches Rose and George from his bedroom after reading the verse and watches his mother and George kiss lovingly.
Alternatively, Peter himself can be the “Dear.” Although Peter is the one holding the Bible in the scene at the end of the movie, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the speaker of the verse in the context of the movie. Referring to the idea that he is projected as a Christ-like figure, one could conclude that Peter is the “Dear,” that Christ was the darling of God and that at the end of The power of the dogPeter is free from Phil’s power, however, Christ was freed through sacrifice, not murder.
In the option by far the most interesting, it may also be that the “Dear” mentioned is actually Phil. In an earlier scene, Phil seems struck by the gentle, caring way in which Peter breaks the neck of an injured rabbit they find together. This scene may have been a foreshadowing of Phil’s murder, with Peter feeling like he was saving Phil from a life of desire and pain. Whatever the true answer, it is clear that The power of the dog leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
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