A haunting achievement that skirts any trace of sentimentality, whimsy, or melancholy and instead emerges as crystalline example of direct cinema, asserting Côté as a real non-fiction artisan. For something that hums along at such a placid frequency, points must be given for the nuanced editing, which subtly structures this collection of moments in such a delicate, meticulous manner. I'll never forget those zebras...
C'est navrant et désarmant à la fois, mais il y aura toujours des imbéciles qui trouveront de l'art ou de la poésie dans le filmage d'animaux enfermés dans des zoos, des cirques, des manèges. Notre pompeux et pimpant metteur en scène aura certainement penser à reverser le bénéfice de son film à quelques organismes comme le WWF, la SPA et autres consorts opposés à ces lugubres pratiques mercantiles. www.cinefiches.com
Tous ces animaux emprisonnés sans avoir commis le moindre délit... Il faut interdire les zoo ! C'est la conclusion que l'on tire de ce film qui est un formidable plaidoyer pour les animaux. Sans aucun commentaire, et nous épargnant toute musique d'accompagnement. L'image seule.Remarquable.
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.
Cote has made a wonderful reflective, observational, dialogue free examination of our relationship with captive nature and wild beasts. Using the concept of 'the bestiarie' as a launching point Cote had access to a zoo/amusement park in southern Quebec (Parc Safari) and follows the workings there through three seasons. Our gaze is often reflected back and the silence speaks volumes. Cote continues to surprise.