Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs trailer is just lovely – but is there a problem with the movie’s choice of actors?

The Japan-set movie has already drawn criticism for 'whitewashing'

isle of dogs

The trailer for Isle of Dogs dropped yesterday, and it looks as whimsical, intelligent and sweet as any movie in Wes Anderson’s back catalogue.


Anderson’s first film since 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs is set in a dystopian future Japan where, following an outbreak of canine flu, all dogs have been banished to an island made of rubbish.

The film follows a little boy on a mission to find his lost pup.

Anderson’s movie uses the same stop-motion animation as in his 2009 Roald Dahl adaptation Fantastic Mr Fox, and features a star-studded voice cast that includes Scarlett Johansson, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton and Yoko Ono.

The film, however, has already been criticised for its whitewashing because of its casting of mostly white American actors for a story told in a Japanese setting.

A lot of the criticism has been directed at Johansson and Swinton, who have sparked controversy in the past for playing Asian roles. Last year, Swinton was cast in Doctor Strange as The Ancient One, a character based on a Tibetan sorcerer. And in March, Ghost in the Shell, a live-action remake of a Japanese anime, debuted with Johansson as the main character.

Anderson did cast a number of Japanese actors and musicians in Isle of Dogs, including Ken Watanabe, Yoko Ono, Yôjirô Noda, Mari Natsuki.


Isle of Dogs is released in UK cinemas on 30th March 2018.