Who knew that farm life can be so compelling?
It starts with a pig. There’s nothing remarkable or special about this pig. It’s a normally healthy pig who gives birth to a litter. As the young pigs grow up the camera shifts its focus to their mother’s farm companions. There’s a small herd of cows. There’s also a flock of chickens.
Despite its glacially slow pace, you are pulled into their lives as you’re given a pig’s eye view. The unembellished sound design, black-and-white cinematography, and observational camerawork do a great job of building this world of barn life.
The runt of the litter – spared from natural selection early on – does his/her best to catch up. A pair of cows help swat flies out of each other’s faces by standing side by side. A flock of chickens escape their container and poke at the fence. The camera does a close-up of their feet as they walk, and then cuts to a one-legged chicken.
There are no scenes that take place in a meat processing plant. There are no people dragging cows for slaughter.
Yet these moments become compelling because you are aware that this takes place on a farm. You see how humans affect their lives without seeing any person. You know their eventual fate.
Once that fate is confirmed, you realize that these random moments make up a life that’s controlled and then taken away.
Gunda is experiential filmmaking about the true cost of a roast pork belly and spicy buffalo wings. It doesn’t use any shock value or guilt-tripping rhetoric.
Gunda is a silent yet powerful appeal for empathy and to see animals as more than food on a plate.
Gunda is a poetic animal documentary that may not stop everyone from eating bacon, but it will give anyone a stirring perspective about farm life.