Is Power Of The Dog Based On A True Story? Inspirations Explained

Best Director winner The Power of the Dog is an adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name, which was based on Savage’s own experiences.

Warning: spoilers ahead for The power of the dog.

from netflix the power of the dog, which won the Oscar for Best Director in 2022, tells a complex and gritty adaptation of a novel that is based in part on a true story and inspired by the real-life experiences of its author, Thomas Savage. Directed and adapted by Academy Award winner Jane Campion and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee, the power of the dogReviews for are overwhelmingly positive, with 93% on Rotten Tomatoes for a Fresh Certified rating. The film also created quite a stir due to the fact that it was nominated for a whopping 12 Oscars. By last, the power of the dog secured just one win: Best Director for Jane Campion, but it’s still a powerful piece of work.


the power of the dogThe story of , set in 1925 Montana, centers on wealthy rancher brothers Phil and George Burbank (Cumberbatch and Plemons, respectively). Kind and gentle George woos and marries Rose (Dunst), a widowed innkeeper, and brings her home along with her son Peter (Smit-McPhee), but Phil has been ruthlessly cruel to Rose and Peter from the beginning. beginning. When Peter realizes that Phil is secretly gay, they develop a camaraderie, much to Rose’s dismay, which ultimately leads to a tragic turn in the power of the dog‘sending.

Related: How Did Phil Die In Power Of The Dog?

However, this story is not original to the Campion movie. the power of the dog is based on a novel of the same name by Thomas Savage, an American author active in the mid-20th century. Born in Utah in 1915 and raised primarily on a Montana cattle ranch, Savage’s writing naturally focused heavily on experiences of the American West. Although Savage’s work is not generally well known, his westerns, including the power of the dogthey are undoubtedly his most enduring legacy.

The power of the dog is semi-autobiographical

the power of the dogThe story of is adapted from the 1967 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Thomas Savage. Savage was a secretly gay man who grew up on a ranch in Montana in the 1920s, so parts of Savage’s life are clearly imbued with both main characters in the power of the dog, Phil and Peter. Jane Campion explained that Savage’s story closely mirrors Peter’s in a myriad of ways, including how he grew up on a ranch, his repressed sexuality, a mother who was forced to use alcohol, and a complex relationship with an uncle. abusive who ended up dying from anthrax poisoning (via Decider). Nevertheless, the power of the dog‘s final big plot twist, in which Peter intentionally gives Phil infected cowhide to work with, appears to be a fictional elaboration of Savage’s experiences. As Champion says:

“I think [Savage] He really did have an uncle who bullied him and who died of anthrax poisoning, though apparently not from him but from a splinter from a pole.”

Although the power of the dogThe portrayal of homosexuality in the rural west has drawn comparisons to the Ang Lee film. Secret in the mountain (adapted from a fictional story), the power of the dog it is based on Savage’s actual experiences as a closeted gay man in that same environment. Living members of Savage’s family believe that the character of Bronco Henry, Phil’s late mentor and lover, may be based on a real figure from that time in Savage’s life. Even if there isn’t a single inspiration behind Bronco Henry, it may have been an amalgamation of several people; Savage would have been well aware of the prevalence of secretly gay ranchers in the rural West and had a personal take on what that looked like and how cultural shame manifested.

Who was the author of The Power of the Dog Thomas Savage?

Phil watching Peter ride the saddle on TPOTD

Thomas Savage, author of the novel that inspired Campion’s subversive western the power of the dog, was born in 1915 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and spent most of his childhood growing up on ranches in Idaho and Montana. Although his later life took him to the East and West Coasts as a writer and academic, these early ranching experiences remained an important touchstone in Savage’s life, as many of his novels and short stories are set in the american west. Savage married Elizabeth Fitzgerald in 1939, who later also became a successful novelist. Elizabeth Savage knew that her husband was secretly gay, as were other members of the Savage family. Nonetheless, the Savages remained married until Elizabeth’s death in 1989, although Thomas did have a few relationships with other men during this time.

Related: Is Phil Gay In Dog Power?

book vs. Movie: How is the movie The Power of the Dog different from the book?

Phil and Peter riding a horse in The Power of the Dog.

In many ways, Campion’s film captures the nuance of Savage. the power of the dog very directly. The high tension between Phil and the Gordons and the shadow of Phil’s mentor, Bronco Henry, remain central components moving from page to screen. At the same time, however, Campion carefully adjusts and consolidates some of the book’s plots to simplify his film. The prime example is the backstory of Johnny Gordon, Peter’s father, whose suicide is actually due to bullying from Phil in Savage’s novel. While Jane Campion’s film necessarily leaves such arguments to one side for timing reasons, the power of the dog it still cleverly translates the key themes of the story and captures the core of Savage’s own teenage life. While the dog powerSavage’s story is fictional, it is clear that Savage’s experiences with sexuality, family and the West permeate the source material brought to life in the film.

Next: Explanation of the meaning of the title and the final verse of the Bible about the power of the dog

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