Dogman Ending Explained & Plot Analysis

Dogs as a superhero weapon: dissection of the movie Dogman (2023). Plot and ending of the movie Dogman meaning, description, essence of the movie Luc Besson, real story.

Country: France

Genre: drama, sci-fi, action movie

Year of production: 2023

Director: Luc Besson

Actors: Caleb Landry Jones, Lincoln Powell, Jojo T. Gibbs, Clemens Schick, Christopher Denham.

Tagline: “In this world, you can only trust dogs”

Awards and nominations: Golden Lion Award nomination and Fanheart3 Best Film Award at the 2023 Venice Film Festival.

The plot and ending of the movie Dogman from acclaimed director Luc Besson caused many questions. Some call the picture the best of the master’s career, others, on the contrary, complain that his creative fervor has dried up. Let’s try to analyze the content of the film and understand what meaning the director put into it.

What the movie’s about

So, let’s break down the plot.

The prologue of the movie “Dogman” quotes the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine: “When God sees the destitute, he sends him a dog.

Caleb Landry Jones of the movie Dogman
Caleb Landry Jones as Douglas Munrow. A still from the movie Dogman

A van speeds down the road on a rainy night. It attracts the attention of the police. The police find a man dressed as a woman behind the wheel, and many dogs in the back of the van.

A phone call wakes up a female psychiatrist named Evelyn. She’s called into work. After handing the child over to her grandmother’s supervision, Evelyn goes to the police station to have the detainee evaluated. The patient turns out to be a guy in a wheelchair – the same van driver. The detainee gives his name – Douglas. When asked if he has children, he says he has hundreds, referring to dogs. To explain his attachment to animals, the guy, at the request of a psychiatrist, immerses himself in memories of his childhood.

Caleb Landry Jones of the movie Dogman
The role of the main character Luglas was played by Caleb Landry Jones. A still from the movie Dogman

By Douglas’s description, he grew up in a dysfunctional family with an abusive religious father, an equally abusive, religious and mean-spirited brother and an unhappy battered mother. The boy loved dogs and secretly fed them despite a strict ban. Learning this from his eldest son, his father locks Douglas in a cage with the animals for a long time. The mother runs away from home to raise the new child in normal conditions. She says goodbye to Douglas, leaving him canned food as a parting gift. The boy survives an entire winter in the fly house without even trying to escape.

After the conversation, Evelyn returns home, where she learns that her ex-husband, who has been forbidden by the court to go near their shared child, has not given up trying to do so.

Again the conversation is with Douglas, who continues to reminisce about his childhood. One day, the boy’s brother hung a stretch marker on the cage that reads “IN THE NAME OF GOD.” However, from inside, Douglas, due to the design of the cage, could only see the back of the cage, and only part of it, namely: “DOG EMAN” – as if it were the English “Dogman” with a French accent. This became the hero’s nickname.

Jojo T. Gibbs of the movie Dogman
The movie stars actress Jojo T. Gibbs as Evelyn. A still from the movie Dogman

We are shown the events that happened to Douglas shortly before his arrest. The boy was visited by a teenager Juan, who brought him a discarded puppy – an addition to the Dogman’s “family”. Juan asked him for help. Marta, the owner of the local laundromat, is being harassed by a gang of robbers. In exchange for the imposed patronage, the bandits not only take away all the profits, but also force her to sell her own things. Douglas promises to help.

Disguised as a woman in a black mourning dress, he’s following
the ringleader El Verdugo and his henchmen. The bandits arrive at the bar, where, at Douglas’s command, a small dog with a phone in his teeth sneaks in. He takes it to the ringleader. He picks it up. Another dog bursts into the bar and grabs El Verdugo by the crotch, while Douglas on the phone offers him a choice: either leave Marta alone or lose his “manhood”. Of course, the ringleader pays lip service to the former. The “deal” is done, the dogs run away.

Evelyn, on the way arguing with her ex-husband on the phone, goes to see Douglas’s dwelling, which resembles a battlefield. Then the girl returns to the patient again. He tells her how he spent his time in a cage with dogs.

Little Douglas hid the puppies from his father. His older brother, upon learning of this, immediately informs his parent. The father becomes enraged and accidentally shoots Douglas, depriving him of a finger and knocking him down. The older brother takes the father into the house and tosses the younger brother a handkerchief to bandage the finger shot off on his hand. Little Douglas gets an idea: he stuffs the shot finger in a bag and tells one of the dogs to take it to the police car – just like the one on the cover of the magazine. The plan works: the police arrest Douglas’s father and older brother, and an ambulance is called for Douglas himself.

Grace Palma of the movie Dogman
The role of Salma Bailey was played by Grace Palma. A still from the movie Dogman

That day the hero lost the ability to move normally – a bullet from his father’s gun lodged in his spine. Doctors did not risk pulling it out, so as not to damage the spinal cord. Now every step for Douglas could dislodge the lodged bullet and literally be his last.
The hero’s father was sentenced to twenty years and committed suicide two weeks after his arrest.

Douglas’s brother was sentenced to twelve years, but got out early for good behavior after eight. However, Dogman’s dogs were already waiting for him in town. We are not shown the immediate scene of the massacre – we switch to a conversation in the present tense. Evelyn warns Douglas that she must report a crime involving a patient.

Dogman continues to tell us about his fate. After his release from the cage, he ended up in an orphanage. There he could not make friends with the other guys – no one wanted to play with a disabled person. But the boy met the librarian Salma, in whom he fell in love at first sight. The girl addicted him to reading Shakespeare and performing
in a theater group that staged plays by the British classic. Also Salma taught the boy to use makeup and reincarnate in other people. Staging in the theater circle made little Douglas happy.

However, after a while, Salma left the orphanage and went to perform on Broadway. In the following years, Douglas collected newspaper clippings with articles about her successes. As an adult, he attended a performance of Salma, and afterward infiltrated backstage to talk in person.

Christopher Denham of the movie Dogman
Christopher Denham as Ackerman. A still from the movie Dogman

The girl recognized Douglas and was happy to meet him. The guy gave her an album with newspaper clippings and that touched Salma even more. However, Douglas’ dreams of a relationship with a former mentor was not destined to come true. The girl, it turns out, by this time was already married to his director. Distressed by this news, Douglas returns to the dog shelter where he works. The pets comfort the guy, just as they used to when he was a kid. Like a girl disappointed in love, Douglas gives himself a short haircut.

The authorities are going to shut down the dog shelter to save the budget. Douglas reminds the mayor’s office that the facility lives off donations, and the municipality only funds the building itself. But therein lies the problem: in order to make more profit, the site is planned to be turned over to a developer. During the weekend preceding the planned eviction of the shelter, Douglas manages to move with all his pets into an abandoned college building. It now becomes his home and headquarters.

To feed the dogs, Dogman looks for a job. He passes interviews, but gets rejection after rejection – no one needs a wheelchair user. One day, coming to the address in one of the vacancies in the cabaret, Douglas sees a rehearsal of singing travesti – men in women’s costumes.

Remembering his theater past, Dogman offers himself as a performer. The landlord is skeptical of the idea. However, Douglas impresses him and everyone present with his mastery of Edith Piaf and his magnificent vocals. The cabaret owner includes Douglas’ performance in the Friday program.

Douglas tells Evelyn that in addition to performing in the cabaret, he earned money by helping people solve their safety problems and matching them with pets. The dogs always understood Dogman perfectly and obeyed him unconditionally.

Clemens Schick of the movie Dogman
The movie stars Clemens Schick as Mike Munrow. A still from the movie Dogman

Douglas has also trained dogs to steal jewelry from the homes of the rich. Their disappearance attracts the interest of the insurance company, which is obliged to compensate the value of the stolen goods. The company’s representative Ackerman takes up the case.

At first puzzled by the strange handwriting of the criminal, he finally finds the clue and gets on Dogman’s trail. Ackerman comes to his concert, where the artist portrays Marlene Dietrich. Then, without reporting his discovery, Ackerman has the indiscretion to come to Douglas’s house, where the latter, with the help of dogs, cuts him down.

Next we are shown the events that preceded Dogman’s arrest. El Verdugo and his associates decided to massacre Douglas and his pets, but underestimated the enemy. Bandits with the help of torture extracted from Juan the address of Martha’s intercessor, then killed him. The thugs came to Douglas’s home while he was in the process of reincarnating as Marilyn Monroe. They scattered around the building and one by one fell victim to Dogman’s pets, who lured the uninvited guests into death traps. By the end of the fight, only the leader of the gang survived, but not for long – he was also defeated by the dogs.

Immediately after the arrest Dogman, having given a conditional sign to the pets, commands them to run away and they rush out of the back of the truck.

Dogs and cops of the movie Dogman
A still from the movie Dogman

Back to the interrogation in the cell again. Evelyn asks Douglas why he opened up to her. The guy answers: they are united by pain.

Leaving the station, the psychiatrist does not notice the dog on duty across the street. It howls and gathers the others as the woman leaves. Douglas smokes and smiles, then shaves and changes into a suit. The animals, meanwhile, sneak into the station, scaring the policeman. The man falls from his chair, losing consciousness. Taking the keys from the body, the dogs bring them under the door of the cell where their master is. In this way, Douglas is released from the cell.

In the ending, Dogman sees the rising sun just above the church across the street. To Edith Piaf’s famous song “Non! Rien de rien” (“No, I regret nothing: neither the good done to me nor the evil done to me – I don’t care”) he gets up from his chair with an incredible effort and staggers toward the church. Douglas stops in the shadow of the cross, turns to God, saying that now he is ready. A few moments later, the boy falls, emitting his last breath. From above, his body looks crucified in the shadow of the cross. The faithful friends surround their master’s body, bidding him farewell.

Evelyn, nursing her baby, looks out the window and sees a dog lying in front of the house – a last greeting from Dogman. The woman and the dog look at each other with an understanding look. The dog will probably become Evelyn’s reliable guardian and will prevent her ex-husband from taking the child.

What real events is the movie based on

Director Luc Besson once mentioned that the plot of “Dogman” came about after he read a news story in the newspaper about abusive parents locking their child in a cage. Which specific case was in question, it’s hard to say. It’s unlikely there were dogs involved as well. Still, the story of Dogman in Besson’s movie is almost pure fiction. Too supernatural looks too supernatural communication and interaction of the hero with pets.

By the way, real events inspired another movie with a similar title – Italian-French crime drama “Dogman” 2018 directed by Matteo Garrone.

The meaning of the movie Dogman

When asked about the essence of the movie “Dogman” in an interview, Luc Besson said the following: “There are only two things that can save us. It is love and art… You will be very lucky if you have both”.

Based on these words, we can say that the main character was indeed lucky. He had both art and the love of some of the world’s most loyal creatures – dogs – in his life. This allowed him to be happy at least for a while and at least partially healed from the mental and physical traumas inflicted by other people.

By and large, “Dogman” is an adaptation of a quote by a great dog lover, poet Alphonse de Lamartine, made in the prologue. By the way, it is to him attributed the authorship of the popular expression “The more I know people, the more I love dogs.”

Should we look for some more hidden meaning in the plot of the movie laid down by the director? Maybe. But, although in some places the picture looks like a parable with the potential for a detailed interpretation, most likely it is not. First of all, it is a purely entertaining movie with cultural references (Shakespeare and cult singer-actresses) and numerous curtsies in the direction of modern European values (first of all, the value of freedom – the freedom to be whoever you want) mixed with the desire for social justice.

protagonist of the movie Dogman
A still from the movie Dogman

Dogman Explanation of the ending

Besson also flirts with religious references. He does not criticize religious fanaticism too aggressively, but still criticizes it. Fanatics are portrayed as extremely cruel and shallow characters. The protagonist even acts as a kind of anti-God. It is not for nothing that we were shown how the nickname “Dogman” appeared – from the inverted “God” on the stretch mark.

Religious fanaticism literally locks Douglas in a cage, makes him disabled and turns him into a criminal and a fighter against the established order.

The explanation of the ending, which the director pushes us towards, completes this theme. Douglas, despite his crimes, did not become a monster and found the strength to open up to God before his death. It is not for nothing that he was “crucified on a shadow cross”: the Dogman is not the Antichrist at all, but in a sense a “shadow” Christ, who took upon himself the sins of mankind.

On the other hand, the explanation of the ending of the movie Dogman may not be so straightforward. Perhaps it is just a beautiful visual move on the part of the director, without any special meaning or depth.

chocolate Doberman of the movie Dogman
A still from the movie Dogman

Related movies

  • Joker (USA, Canada, 2019) is the story of a famous movie villain that many are comparing “Dogman” to;
  • Taxi Driver (USA, 1976): Martin Scorsese’s cult crime drama;
  • Léon / The Professional (France, USA, 1994): one of Luc Besson’s best films;
  • John Wick (USA, China, 2014): a retired professional hitman avenges the death of his dog;
  • The Wrath of Becky (USA, 2023): a girl chases bandits who have kidnapped her pets;
  • I Am Legend (USA, 2007): the sole survivor on Earth after an epidemic turned all other humans into vampires, lives with his loyal dog friend Sam and tries not to go insane.
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