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ANIMAL LOVE

Director: ULRICH SEIDL

AUSTRIA • 1995 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DIGITAL BETA • 120 MIN


‘Never have I looked so directly into hell’ declared director Werner Herzog after seeing this extraordinary film. ‘Hell is us’ is the message Seidl himself has assigned to his films, suggesting that humans create and perpetuate their own misery. Nowhere is this felt more clearly than in this darkly humorous study of Austrian pet owners. More disquieting than perverse, the film observes the lonely and desperate of Vienna whose relationships with their four-legged friends have replaced the intimacy and companionship of other human beings. Loneliness is Seidl’s prime focus here. Using a visual style that’s close to the work of photographer Diane Arbus, the director closes in voyeuristically on his subjects’ most private moments as he films people channelling their maternal, romantic and sexual instincts into relationships with their pets. The film is all the more disturbing because it stops just short of bestiality, instead exposing a more indefinable rapport between man and beast.

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