Gunda (2020)

It is a film about pigs, cows and a chicken. Black and white. Without words. Without music. Victor Kossakovsky is offering not just a mesmerising poetic work of art but also a wonderful life experience. We get to know Gunda the sow, her family and neighbours, and it gives us the reason to think about the secret of consciousness and the value of life of those with whom we share this planet.

A very unusual documentary. It’s a slow, meditative experience as we watch farm animals going about their daily life. Filmed entirely in black and white, the cinematography is superb. Despite its subtlety, the ending of the 93 minutes is sobering. While no humans appear in the movie, the relationship between the animals and humans is powerfully explored. And by the start of the titles at the end, we realise that this film is a lament rather than a celebration. We can see the emotions that these animals experience. And they are not always happy ones. Despite GUNDA’s extremely gentle and subtle approach, it is not a children’s movie — recommended for 13+. And there will be many adults, I guess, who won’t appreciate the slow, minimalist pace. It’s easy to doze off occasionally! It’s worth a look, though, even if it achieves nothing more than experiencing a very different sort of cinema, and a provocation to think about our relationship with animals who are far more intelligent and sensate that we often give them credit for in a rampantly utilitarian society.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

(In cinemas in Australia – check your movie guide for your local show times.)