Director: Victor Kossakovsky

93 mins, 2020, Norway-USA, Digital

Through encounters with a mother sow – the eponymous Gunda – two cows, and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken, Gunda, which has been championed by both Jaoquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson, movingly recalibrates our moral universe, reminding us of the inherent value of life and the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own. The refreshingly minimal film, shot in luminous monochrome, with no music, save for the farm’s ambient soundtrack, or voiceover, avoids anthropomorphism and sentimentality, allowing the viewer to intimately observe the animals for extended periods. Kossakovsky invites viewers to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, and in doing so, Gunda takes us into the mystery of animal life, their personalities and emotions, and the complicated role humanity plays in it.

Notes by David O’Mahony

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