In 1971, a truck driver Thomas (Luke Ford) arrives in Dampier, Western Australia late one night, having transported a previously ordered statue of William Dampier to the town. Upon entering the town pub he sees the silhouettes of a group of men, one of whom is holding a gun. Believing it is a murder, he rushes into the next room, where he sees that the men are trying to put down an apparently sick dog (played by Koko). Unable to bring themselves to carry out the euthanasia, the men, with Thomas, retreat to the bar.
Publican Jack Collins (Noah Taylor) tells him the dog's name is Red Dog and narrates his story. Upon arriving in Dampier, the dog befriends many of the employees of Hamersley Iron, who have a major iron ore excavation in progress. Various miners relate their stories of Red Dog to Thomas, but state that, while Red Dog was a dog for everyone, he had no real master.
The men then tell of an American, John Grant (Josh Lucas), a bus driver for Hamersley Iron who became Red's master. He eventually starts dating a woman named Nancy (Rachael Taylor), a secretary at Hamersley Iron. After living in Dampier for two years, John proposes to Nancy. On the night of the engagement, John tells Red Dog to stay until he returns from Nancy's caravan. Early the next morning, John rides his motorcycle from Nancy's caravan, but he is killed in an accident on the way after hitting a kangaroo.
In the shock of John's accident, Nancy and the Hamersley men forget about Red Dog. Three days after the funeral, they find him still waiting where John told him to stay. After three weeks Red Dog decides to look for John, first at Hamersley Iron, then the bar and other places where John was known to go, until all of Dampier is explored. He continues across much of the Australian North West Pilbara region, from Perth to Darwin. He is even rumoured to have caught a ship to Japan in search of John. Finally, the grief catches up to him, and he decides to return to Dampier. When he arrives, he returns to Nancy at the caravan park where she is staying, and she is overwhelmed to see him. The caretakers of the caravan park, however, do not allow dogs in the park, and threaten to shoot Red Dog. Nancy and John's friends at Hamersley then travel to the community of Dampier in support of Red Dog and, after a "civilised chat" with some of the miners, the caretaker and his wife leave, leaving their cat, Red Cat, behind. A great fight between Red Dog and Red Cat ensues, and in the end, they resolve their differences and become mates but still have their ups and downs.
Back in the present day, miner Jocko (Rohan Nichol) asks the gathered crowd why they should have a statue of a man (William Dampier) set in their town when all he did in relation to the place was say that there were too many flies, and suggests that they should instead erect a statue of someone who represents the town – Red Dog. During the celebrations that follow, Red Dog gets up and walks out of the bar, unnoticed by everyone. Upon realising that the sick dog has left, everyone in the town begins looking for him, eventually finding him lying dead in front of John's grave.
One year later, Thomas once again drives up to Dampier with a new puppy for Nancy, a new 'Red Dog' and the whole town unveils a statue of Red Dog, a statue which still stands today.Koko as Red Dog
Josh Lucas as John Grant
Rachael Taylor as Nancy Grey
John Batchelor as Peeto
Noah Taylor as Jack Collins
Keisha Castle-Hughes as Rosa
Loene Carmen as Maureen Collins
Luke Ford as Thomas
Neil Pigot as Rick
Rohan Nichol as Jocko
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight as Patsy
Costa Ronin as Dzambaski
Eamon Farren as Dave
Arthur Angel as Vanno
Bill Hunter as Jumbo Smelt
The Snowdroppers as a band
Red Dog (c. 1971 – 21 November 1979) was a Kelpie/cattle dog cross who was well known for his travels through Western Australia's Pilbara region. There is a statue in his memory in Dampier, which is one of the towns to which he often returned. Red Dog is believed to have been born in the town of Paraburdoo in 1971 and had a variety of names to those who knew him, including: Bluey, Tally Ho, and Dog of the Northwest. Soon after Red's death in 1979, Australian author Nancy Gillespie wrote and compiled anecdotes and poetry written by several people of the Pilbara region for her book Red Dog as did Beverly Duckett in her 1993 book Red Dog: The Pilbara Wanderer. Red Dog's statue has caught the attention of a number of people passing through Dampier including British author Louis de Bernières, who was inspired to write Red Dog, a book loosely based on Red's legend. A four-wheel-drive club has been named in his honour.
DVD and related media
Red Dog was officially released on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and digital download on 1 December 2011 in Australia. The Red Dog DVD is the biggest-selling Australian DVD of all time. The DVD is also the third-highest selling DVD of all time in Australia behind Avatar (first) and Finding Nemo (second).
The film has not been as successful overseas as it was in Australia. The film opened at #25 in the United Kingdom, earning just £24,727 from 56 screens (24–26 February 2012) and opened at #5 at the New Zealand box office, earning NZ$124,447 from 72 screens. The film has been a DVD only release in territories such as Germany and Argentina but has been acquired by independent distributor Arc Entertainment in a deal for all media in the United States, though there is "no word on a theatrical release date or strategy" in the announcement.
As of 17 November 2011, the film made more than A$21 million at the Australian box office since opening in August 2011. Red Dog is ranked eighth in the list of (Cinema of Australia) highest-grossing Australian film's of all time. 11 days after opening, Red Dog became the highest-grossing Australian film of 2011.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 81% of critics reviewed the film positively, with an average score of 6.6/10. Phillip French of The Guardian said that the film is "guaranteed to bring tears and laughter". Garry Couzens of The Digital Fix said that, "I saw this film and War Horse within a day of each other, and felt that Red Dog achieved much of what Spielberg's film was aiming at, with much less sentimentality, anthropomorphism and self-importance, more laughs and with an hour's less running time." Mark Adams of the Sunday Mirror gave Red Dog a three star rating and said, "this canine true story is an engaging, feel-good Australian family drama about a dog." Adams opined that it boasted a strong cast and felt that overall it was "clichéd but charming". Craig Mathieson of SBS awarded the film three stars out of five, observing that the film "passes through various emotional states without ever being too taxing" and felt that Red Dog was "the most widely appealing Australian film since Bran Nue Dae".
The film missed winning Best Editing and Best Production Design at the Inside Film Awards.
Koko's acceptance speech on YouTube was played at the ceremony because he was unable to attend the event.
Red Dog has screened at numerous film festivals around the world including:Berlin International Film Festival 2011
Heartland Film Festival 2011
Israeli Film Festival 2011
Sheffield Showcomotion Young People's Film Festival 2011
Melbourne International Film Festival 2011
Inverness Film Festival 2011
Busan Film Festival 2011
Hawaii Film Festival 2011
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival 2011
Santa Barbara Film Festival 2012
Beijing International Film Festival 2012
Rincon Puerto Rico Film Festival 2012
Cannes Cinephiles 2012
In March 2012 it was announced that the Red Dog film would be developed into a stage musical. The musical is being developed by Australian theatre producer John Frost and Red Dog producer Nelson Woss.
A prequel, titled Red Dog: True Blue, began filming in early 2015 for six weeks, with a release date Boxing Day 2016. The film will explore Red Dog's earlier days, as well as delving into the history of the Pilbara region. Due to Koko's death, Red Dog will be recast.