IMDb Rating 6.9 10 315

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February 11, 2022 at 12:09 PM



862.99 MB
English 2.0
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1 hr 33 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by oOgiandujaOo_and_Eddy_Merckx 6 / 10

21st Century Slavery

One of the most illuminating documentaries in film history is called Titicut Follies (1967), one of the first and only times a director got under the skin of an institutions, which Andrea Arnold manages again with Cow. Follies uncovers the horrendous maltreatment of people at an asylum in Massachusetts. It's remarkable because of the co-operation given to the filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. The medical staff at Titicut simply do not have the self awareness or empathy to know that they do wrong and give him the run of the place. In the most jawdropping moment a doctor smoking a cigarette over an anaesthetised patient, lets his fag ash fall into the man's open mouth, and no-one bats an eyelid. Exposés since that time have been rather subdued as most wrongdoers are informed enough to be a completely different person when they know a camera is nearby. In addition, corporate puppetmasters became quick to appreciate the asymmetry of possible outcomes that can arise when someone they have no control over can run around with a camera, unfettered access is thus now rare.

The farmers here simply feel that everything they do is justified (or maybe they crave judgement?), and so they have given Andrea Arnold and her crew the run of the place. Like Wiseman before her Arnold simply points her camera at stuff going on, there are no interviews, no explanatory notes, the camera eye does all the talking. They spend four years focussing mainly on one cow, Luma, her day-to-day experience, and those of her calf. When the calf is announced female I didn't know whether to be relieved or appalled, males are often shot straight away as rearing them to sell on as veal is not economical, whilst the female become part of the dairy herd; which is better, murder or slavery?

Cow is the nightmare of Fritz Lang's Metropolis come true, where persons literally become part of machines. On the farm placid and majestic creatures are cruelly exploited, and then when the economics of keeping them enslaved stops making sense, abruptly murdered. There are indeed Wisemanian moments here, where a farmhand comments that Luma is bad for being protective. "Bad" here meaning that she doesn't do exactly what her enslavers want when they want it ("Fair is foul and foul is fair"). An awkward moment occurs as the second farmhand knows a faux pas has been made on camera. The farmers are of that chilling breed of individuals who know what they do is wrong but do it anyway., because there are no repercussions. We can at least say of them that they are not sadists, no-one deliberately harms an animal here for entertainment (although things like this have been videoed on other farms).

Numerous unpleasant scenes include debudding without anaesthetic (to make the slaves more manageable the tissue that grows horns is burned away), Luma refusing to eat after her latest child is abducted and industrial milking apparatus dangling in slurry.

Arnold's treatment feels occasionally tone deaf, Luma is corralled into a pen with a bull to get made pregnant yet again (cows are essentially kept permanently pregnant and have no agency whatsoever), and Arnold feels it's appropriate to edit this in with a firework display, as if something remotely romantic is happening when breeding of slaves occurs. In interviews Arnold has talked about the service that the cows have given us, the problem is that cows have their free will removed, they are not giving us service, everything thy give is being taken. I gave the film a 6 because for all its revelations I do still feel that Arnold doesn't fully get it.

It is sobering to remind oneself that of all the lurid horrors of Cow, this is likely the best a farm gets, and the best simply isn't good enough. We can stop the suffering, end deforestation and end climate change if we stop enslaving animals, but we enjoy the taste of these easily substituted products too much. The childishly absurd "bacon tho" and "cheese tho" arguments win out. Humanity had better hope that no wrathful judge exists.

Reviewed by euroGary 6 / 10

More context needed

The 2021 London Film Festival described 'Cow' as a documentary following the life of Luma, a cow caught up in the UK's dairy industry. In fact both Luma (who actually seems to be called 'Emma' by the dairy workers) and her unnamed calf - whose birth features in the opening scenes - get near-equal screen time. They are together for only a brief time before the calf is placed in an isolation hut and Luma is returned to a life of intensive milking, grazing, another pregnancy and, ultimately, death. Eventually the calf is placed in a group of other calves as she in her turn is introduced to her place in the industry.

Such a lot of what happens in this film is not explained: for instance, why was the calf placed in isolation? Why were holes burned in her forehead? (at least, that is what it looked like.) Why did the dairy farm decide to shoot Luma when - from the horrendous size of her distended udder - it seemed she was still capable of intensively producing milk? I suppose it could be argued that not providing such information puts the audience in the same position as the cows themselves: they, after all, will not have a clue what is happening to them. But I would rather have had the information in order to assess for myself whether how the animals are treated can be justified or not.

A danger with any documentary about how we treat animals is that the viewer will be manipulated by the film maker to feel emotive sympathy for the animals (not, of course, that sympathy is a bad thing). There were one or two occasions where I felt that happened here: for instance, when Luma and her calf are separated director Andrea Arnold gradually mutes all the sound - of other cows, the dairy machinery etc - until only Luma's breathing is heard, which creates a sense of loneliness. (And were there really fireworks in the sky when Luma is once again impregnated?) But on the whole I thought this documentary came across as pretty even-handed: those concerned with animal welfare will not be impressed by the machine-led husbandry on display, while those worried about negative portrayals of the dairy industry will be pleased that no obvious, malicious cruelty is on display (although the viewer may wonder if the dairy workers are *quite* so cheery and friendly to the animals when they do not have a documentary film crew in the vicinity...)

Reviewed by R0biSh0bi 10 / 10

True age of Kali

This is an eye opener, everyone must watch whether, whatever your viewpoint. Then make a decision what you want to do with your lifestyle after. I highly recommend my local school to send children on visits to farms to see how animals live there and are treated.

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