Andrea Arnold’s harrowing documentary about farm animals will change the way you think about them.
Fish Tank’s award-winning director spent four years following a single animal through its daily activities.
The outcome is heartbreaking.
Cow is a near-wordless documentary about Luma, a dairy cow.
Andrea Arnold, a British filmmaker known for films like Red Road, Fish Tank, and American Honey, is the source of this song.
Some may argue that her previous work does not indicate that this is a subject matter she is interested in.
Her recurring theme of troubled motherhood, however, is evident throughout the book.
As is Arnold’s apparent total devotion: the filmmaker and her crew spent four years following this one animal, trying to see if they could find “consciousness” within it, in Arnold’s words.
Arnold’s style remains steadfastly realist, using an unobtrusive handheld camera and close-ups of Luma’s sweet bovine face.
The film begins with an unobstructed and unappealing view of Luma’s backside as two farm workers assist her in giving birth to a calf.
Luma quickly takes to licking the unsteady baby clean, but she is soon separated from it – they must both continue to serve their roles on the farm.
Unmistakably, she sets out in search of the calf before launching into a series of moos that sound unmistakably like cries.
The nastier aspects of farm life and modern dairy work are not avoided.
From the scourge of flies to the terror of newly branded calves, this is a cow’s perspective on the world.
Luma’s large eyes are frequently featured in shots with a soft soundtrack, making it difficult not to project human emotion onto her.
Expressions about how you can be “herded like cattle” suddenly take on a new and difficult resonance as she trots from cage to bigger cage, from feeding trough to barn, all in a state of distress.
We can argue all day about whether or not animals should be anthropomorphized, but Arnold makes it impossible to deny that these creatures have a maternal instinct.
She refuses to eat and slumps on to the cow beside her after having what turns out to be her umpteenth calf taken from her almost as soon as it is born.
This is it.
UK news summary from Infosurhoy.
Cow, review: Andrea Arnold’s devastating documentary will change how you think about farm animals