January 15, 2021 – This movie, shot on a farm over several months, has no narration, no subtitles, no music and no human beings appear on screen. The whole movie is farm animals in their natural habitat. The chickens are the free ranging type, but there are fences for the rest.
Directed by Victor Kossakovsky, this movie was filmed on farms and sanctuaries in Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, including the Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary in East Sussex.
Those sufficiently removed from their food sources will probably view this movie differently than those who have actually seen farm animals slaughtered and butchered for their meat. I am one of those who have witnessed the slaughtering and butchering first hand. For the record, this movie doesn't show the actual slaughtering and butchering, but these things are implied.
This American-Norwegian movie, which is beautifully photographed in black and white by the way, is filmed by cinematographers who manage to get close to the animals without interfering with them. It is centered on a sow pig and her piglets.
The sow and piglets (quite a few piglets) are shown from the time the piglets are quite young, until they are older, probably about the age at which the sow would wean them. The film also shows a herd of cows and some chickens, including a one-legged chicken.
In one scene, the cows are being bothered by flies, so they stand parallel to each other, so that each cow's whipping tale helps clear the flies from the other cow's face. I've seen horses do this, but had not seen cows do this trick.
The film is very static. The cameras don't move much, and frankly, not much happens in most scenes. Finally, though, a farm tractor with a trailer appears in a scene. It is loaded and hauled away. The sow frantically runs around looking for her offspring, but they have all disappeared.
So, the sow loves her children. She cares for them and raises them. Now, the sow's children are stolen from her and taken off to the slaughter and she is upset. Honestly now, where did you think your bacon comes from? Does this make those veggie burgers taste any better?
According to an article in Vegan Life, Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary in East Sussex allows none of its cows or other animals to be killed, or to die before their time: “ ... palliative care offered is of the highest quality, providing round-the-clock nursing and one-to-one loving support for anyone preparing to leave their body ... Everyone at Hugletts Wood enjoys a gentle, natural existence as close to that which they would have, had they the chance to live absolutely free.”
Of course at a typical sanctuary for farm animals, the animals also live “absolutely free” from predators like wolves, otherwise, their lives would be far from long and idyllic. The only way that most farm animals can live and thrive as they do is because predators like wolves have been ruthlessly killed. That is one reason that predators are among the first animals to go extinct when they interact with humans.
From a pure cinematography and editing standpoint, this film is well done, but the unadorned, static, drawn-out, morally simplistic nature of this movie is its downfall. If it was cut down to a normal 50-minute PBS short documentary length, that would be about right. This film rates a C+ for vegetarians only.
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