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review by Bobby Blakey


One the beautiful things about documentaries is that they take you into worlds that you are unlikely to ever really experience. Most of the time there is a specific formula to how the story is told with interviews, footage etc. The latest, Gunda from director Victor Kossakowsky looks to be something different. Could this be one of those documentaries that stands out bringing something fresh to the forefront or will it be stuck in the barnyard?

Gunda follows the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using stark, transcendent black and white cinematography and the farm's ambient soundtrack, director Victor Kossakowsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, taking in their world with a magical patience and an other worldly perspective. GUNDA asks us to meditate on the mystery of animal consciousness, and reckon with the role humanity plays in it.

The first trailer for this film was simply mesmerizing. The simplistic nature of its subject matter and execution was instantly engaging. Despite how basic it may seem there is no doubt the amount of precision work it took to pull this together. The idea is simple, but watching these animals just go about their day is so much more engaging than you might think.

There are some elements of watching these animals that will affect everyone in a different way depending on how you interpret what is happening. Some funny, some sad, but all interesting. You are on the ground level with these animals with the main focus on the pigs. I admit I was a bit bummed to not get more of the in depth experience with the cow and chickens, but it is still there. The journey of the mother pig and piglets is enough to carry this whole movie in an experience that is strange, beautiful and pretty brilliant.

This is a film that does take some real focus to stick with as nothing overly exciting happens and the only sounds you get are the natural sounds of the animals and the world around them. That is also the brilliance of it all and is more of an experience than just a film. I know some will watch it and talk about how boring they think it is, but that’s only because they are not seeing the beauty of life that is right in front of them.

Witness the world at their level with Gunda in theaters on April 16th from NEON.

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