Night in the mining town of Dampier, Western Australia, a dog lies in the backroom of the town’s only pub, dying. Not just any dog, but the most loved and infamous dog of the entire Pilbara region – Red Dog.
Slowly through the night word spreads and people from the town gather in the pub. Part vigil, part wake, part celebration, they swap stories of Red Dog’s life, his rise to fame, his glories and tragedies.
Red Dog had first hitched a ride into Dampier some ten years earlier with publican Jack and wife Maureen (Noah Taylor and Loene Carmen). At the time, Dampier was more outpost than town and Red Dog’s rangy personality matched the spirit of the land and the colorful characters who came from throughout the world looking for work.
Red Dog endeared himself to (almost) everyone who crossed his path including Peeto (John Batchelor), a large brash man with a surprisingly soft and gentle heart; Vanno (Arthur Angel), an Italian who Red Dog helps find love; and Jocko (Rohan Nichol), a miner with a dark and disturbing past. However, it was not until Red Dog came across John (Josh Lucas) that he settled down.
John – himself a wanderer – took a job in Dampier driving the Hamersley Iron company bus. Red Dog proudly took his place beside his chosen master. Even when John’s attention was diverted toward the new girl in town, Nancy (Rachael Taylor), Red Dog held his ground.
But tragically, John’s life was cut short. Red Dog could not fathom that John was gone and waited weeks at John’s beach shack in the hope he would return. When John didn’t show, Red Dog set out to find him.
Red Dog travelled thousands of miles hitchhiking by car, truck, rail, ship and air. From the south of Perth to the north of Darwin. He even wandered to Saganoseki, Japan, and back. And in every town, he searched every face for that of his master. To every person he met it was as if he asked the same question: “Have you seen John?”
Back at the pub, the room has filled with town’s community. Memories of Red Dog come fast and furious: His monumental appetite for food and love, his war with the evil Cribbages, his epic brawls with the giant Red Cat. And how ultimately he spoke to their lonely souls and brought them together as a community in this hot and desolate place.
But Red Dog is not yet ready to die. Unnoticed, he shakily gets off the table in the backroom room and weakly wanders off into the night.
As his friends in the pub realize that he’s gone, they stream out into the dawn calling him to come back, to come home. But Red Dog is already heading towards a final journey, into legend.
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Keisha Castle Hughes
Director of Photography
1st Assistant Director
Roadshow Films (ANZ)