So stunning and profound-- so restrained, rigorous, and full of respect for his subjects. I was more than moved, this film is such an important contribution to cinema. It was with a heavy heart that I left the theatre- this is best film I have seen this year.
a film almost deprived of emotionality. the first half of the film features one of the most violent cameras I ever saw - not about showing everything, but about forcibly holding the animal in spaces it doesn't belong, for us to see.
The subjects as mere animals? No, we are too anthropocentric to let that happen. We project onto them our human anxiety against captivity and control. The resonances the film evokes are those of anthropolitics and Foucaldian biopolitics. Even hints of Agamben's homo sacer and thanatopolitics. Man as commodity. Man as subaltern. It's a film worthy of contemplation: it speaks volumes where no annotation exists.
The trick is that, even though the concluding images release the animals that we once saw in cages, we're all the more horrified by this supposed freedom of space. Camera always landing at unexpected angles. Sound design is frequently the best in show - the sound of zebras banging against their own cages, scuttling around, then trying again is one of the film's most harrowing sonic observations. Really depressing.
"A popular sensation in medieval Europe," according to the Sundance catalog, "bestiaries were catalogs of beasts featuring exotic animal illustrations, zoological wisdom, and ancient legends." Furthermore, Cotes' "modern version is an elegant, bewitching meditation on the nature of sentience.” The verdict: We are one of them. And zebras are skittish.
A beautifully shot nature documentary that focuses on animals in confinement, this wordless and scoreless art piece was almost too slow and depressing to sit through as it showed scene after scene of bored, confused, depressed animals.