South African Nobel laureate JM Coetzee, a renowned animal activist, assures us that we tolerate animal sacrifice only because we do not suffer from it. We don’t see it, we don’t hear it, we don’t smell it. Just two years ago, the film Punk, another famous animal activist, produced by actor Joaquin Phoenix, and directed by Russian Viktor Kosakovsky, stops at the life of a sower and his piggy bank on a farm. Despite the black and white of its style and the prominence of a litter, Punk had some similarities with Cow, Andrea Arnold’s documentary that now immerses us in the experience of cattle on a dairy farm. Both films begin with the birth of a child and in both the camera acts as the sympathetic detective of an animal life, whose role is far out in the food farm and alien to most consumers.
Arnold’s Camera (Jury Award with his second film at Cannes 2010, fish tankand six years later American Honey) acts like a sponge. It does not load the ink, it only illuminates what it is made of – a life in which cows are artificially inseminated at least once a year while grazing in the fields on bright days and nights. is done, survive only to give birth and produce milk. Calves, separated from their mothers almost immediately, will follow the same fate if they are females: births without rest, monitored burst udders and forcible separation of calves that will barely smell.
The British director’s film appeals to an agricultural realism in which men are voices out of screen, often arranged with nice words and a friendly tone, an exhausting routine in which the audience will feel the physical pain of being a dairy cow in a factory. . Terrible moments happen, such as the separation of calves from cows, the burning of their horns or the tense use of pipe music while machines automatically milk the animals. There are also strange beautiful moments, like cows in the open at night and under the moon. some would say vegan propaganda Cow, although Arnold limits himself to merely capturing what happens without voice or preaching. If it’s hype, at least it’s smart. Be that as it may, the film experiences desolation and, going back to Coetzee and his alter ego, Elizabeth Costello, today these powerless beasts have “only their silence before us”.
Direction: Andrew Arnold.
Gender: Documentary film. United Kingdom, 2021.
period: 98 minutes.
Premiere: April 8.
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