Isle of Dogs: Being Washed by the Master

I enjoy Wes Anderson films and his latest didn’t disappoint.

Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion animated comedy set in the dystopian, Japanese city of Megasaki.

In fear that the latest outbreak of ‘Snout Fever’ might spread to humans, all dogs are banished to ‘Trash Island’.

Their masters, under the mayor’s decree, cast them out.

The Master, Atari

The film follows the story of one master, the mayor’s nephew, Atari. He misses his dog Spots so he flies a plane to search for him.

After landing on Trash Island, Atari meets a smooth-talking, dirty dog called Chief. Chief boasts about the freedom of not having a master.

Whilst Chief helps him find Spots, he keeps his distance from Atari. But the dirty dog is compelled by this master’s pursuit of his beloved pet.

Chief warms to Atari and in the most moving scene, he allows Atari to wash him clean.

The independent dog finds greater freedom, bound to a caring master.

The Master, Jesus Christ

After rejecting our Master, we became unclean, cast out from his presence (Mark 7:20-23).

But our Master pursued us. Atari’s mission to find his dirty dog echoes Jesus’ mission to save his sinful people.

Like Chief, we believe we’re freer without our Master. And it’s only when we see his loving pursuit and sacrificial death for us that this lie becomes clear to us.

After that, [Jesus] poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:5)

We were hard-hearted like Chief. But our hearts were melted by the compelling Christ with a basin and towel.

So we allowed ourselves to be washed.

Isle of Dogs is a play-on-words. “I love dogs,” are Atari’s words. “I love broken, sinful, unclean people,” are the words of our Saviour.