A 2021 Film Journey: Day 109

It feels weird to be going back to one post a day after the breakneck speed at which I was writing for SIFF. Though to be fair I am still finishing up with the last couple of SIFF posts, so I have a few more multi-post days to go. My major takeaway from the Festival, at least as far as writing goes, is that I can be doing much more than just these daily posts. I enjoy the personal nature that these posts take as opposed to the more formal reviews that I did for SIFF, but there is room in me for both. While I was writing a ton all last week, I am going to start expanding slowly to make sure everything stays sustainable. My plan as of right now is to post at least one bonus item each weekend. This weekend will be my Oscar picks and predictions, but I will be playing with the format from there. Anyway, here’s today’s movie.

Gunda (2020, Dir. Viktor Kosakovskiy)

Gunda' review: A wordlessly sublime slice of porcine life - Los Angeles  Times

My film festival may be over, but that does not mean I’m going to stop watching pretentious and artsy movies. Gunda had been on my radar for a while now. It had occupied one of the top slots on Metacritic for most of the film starved 2020, but after it was denied an Oscar nomination it took me a while to get around to it. I am glad that I finally did get around to the film though, because this was a glorious piece of experimental film making.

Devoid of any plot, message, or even dialogue, Gunda is a series of untampered scenes of animals on a farmyard. The titular Gunda is a pig who begins the film by giving birth to a little of piglets. These animals headline the film with extended shots of the piglets exploring or nursing. While the film spends some time focusing on the farm’s cows and chickens – including a loveable one-legged rooster – the piglets are effectively first billing.

If this explanation makes the film seem protracted, that is because it is, but the deliberateness is intentional. Gunda asks its audience to slow down and appreciate the miniscule realities of life along with curious piglets. For those who require another selling point, the black and white cinematography by Viktor Kosakovskiy and Egil Håskjold Larsen is beyond breathtaking. The camera is always at eyelevel with the animal subjects providing the fullest image of each animal. This combined with some of the crispest high definition I have seen had me constantly questioning if I had upgraded to 4k and forgot. It may be a movie where nothing happens, but that did not stop me from being transfixed the entire time.

One extremely minor caution with the film is that there is no non-diegetic noise, and at times the animal noises can be extremely loud. What I am trying to get at is that the first scene with the minutes old baby piglets was filled with enough baby pig noises that it slightly upset one of my cats.

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