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Animals

Space Dogs review – cosmic canine mission lacks gravity

Soviet archive film is juxtaposed with inane modern footage of Moscow strays, marring what might have been an insightful documentary about animal cruelty in the name of exploration

Ostensibly an alternative biography of Laika, the stray mongrel who became the first cosmonaut, this film faithfully tracks her from her time on the streets of Moscow to her lonely demise in low Earth orbit. Incredible archive footage shows us Laika and a number of other dogs being subjected to a relentless barrage of exercises designed to mimic the incredible stress of space travel; it’s hard not to be affected by the footage knowing, as we do, that Laika is being led to an excruciating end.

Space Dogs documents a cruel period in human history but the bleak tone the film-makers pursue throughout may not be the best way of dealing with it. It is designed, perhaps, to numb you to the horror of what you are witnessing but the unspeakable acts are presented without comment or context.

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