The documentary series, created by Emilie Dumay and Aurelien Leturgie, definitely tries to go deep into the history behind Gunther’s bizarre story, but at times ends up being as messy as the tale it is trying to tell.
On the surface, Gunther seems to be the luckiest dog in the world. With almost $ 400 million to his name, sprawling estates, a team dedicated to do his bidding 24/7, the pooch lives a life of luxury few can dream of. But under this strange tale of a dog who was left behind a huge inheritance by his wealthy owner, lies a deeper, darker world of financial fraud, animal abuse, human experiments and more; not to mention the strange man behind it all- Gunther’s caretaker Maurizio Mian.
Although the trailer for Gunther’s Millions hinted that it would be much more than a documentary about an adorable millionaire German Shepherd, the extent of how dark some aspects of the story is, is certainly not something one can predict. In fact, the pooch himself takes a backseat in Emilie Dumay and Aurelien Leturgie’s telling of this strange story, and the spotlight is all on his eccentric caretaker, Maurizio Mian. And ‘eccentric’ is putting it lightly.
On the surface, Gunther’s story seems like something out of a Disney movie- a rich German countess, with no living family and relatives of her own, leaves her entire fortunes to her beloved dog. The money is put into a trust, and Maurizio, whose mother was a close friend of the countess, is given the responsibility of being the dog’s caretaker, ensuring that Gunther wants for nothing and lives the kind of life the countess would want for him.
But as Emilie and Aurelian dig deeper into Maurizio’s story, things quickly snowball into a bizarre, almost unbelievable tale of human experiments, financial fraud, and even a cult-like set up.
The makers have done a fantastic job at peeling back the layers of the story in a way that it becomes progressively more and more strange and unsettling as the documentary progresses. If the story of a millionaire dog was not strange enough, the fact that Gunther’s story was closely tied to Maurizio’s attempts at a ‘radical’, and frankly immoral, social experiment wherein he tried to eliminate one of the biggest problems he thought the human race faced, would definitely be enough to make viewers gasp.
Balancing the oddities and eccentricities in Maurizio’s personality and actions, whilst also trying to remind viewers that most of his actions stemmed from his personal struggles, was also something that was done brilliantly by the makers. There are moments in the documentary when, even when viewers are exposed to some of the most shocking things the caretaker did, one cannot help but feel an ounce of sympathy for him due to his own story.
But by the end it seems like the makers did try to fit in too much, too fast, and the smooth way the story progressed quickly ceases to be. Some of the most unethical parts of the story seem to be rushed and haphazardly put together at times.
The story of Gunther’s Millions certainly has all the elements that make it an unsettling and odd tale guaranteed to keep one glued to their screens. Although creators Emilie Dumay and Aurelien Leturgie have done a good job in presenting the story in all of its disturbing glory, the two do lose their way at times, making some parts of the documentary seem haphazardly put together.