Gunda: An intimate look at life on the farm
A mother sow stars in Victor Kossakovsky’s beautiful, monochrome slice of farmyard life, Gunda. Our Cinema Programme Coordinator Melissa Gueneau explains why this intimate documentary portrait of a pig, her piglets, and the assortment of animals they share a farm with is worth 90 minutes of your time this week.
Let’s go to the farm. We’re not here to feed the animals, or pet them, but rather to observe and take the time to see what life is really like when we pay attention.
Filmed entirely in black and white and without any dialogue, Gunda invites you to spend some time with a mother sow (the eponymous Gunda) and her piglets, two ingenious cows and a scene-stealing one-legged chicken, and explore the complexities of the lives on display. The film may lack human speech and colour, but it speaks a thousand words as to what we miss, what we ignore, what we disrupt, what we impact and what we cause. The visual and radio silence is somewhat deafening when you take the time to watch and listen to what those on screen have to say. Patience, curiosity, tolerance, trickery, panic – these animals seem to be going through the same motions and emotions us humans are so familiar with but somehow think we alone can experience. Over the course of 90 minutes, Gunda allows us to discover, acknowledge and appreciate the very unique personalities of this motley farm crew, all the while asking us to question our relationship with animals and the nature of what we think makes us so unique.
Where his prior film, the acclaimed epic Aquarela, was a reminder of the fragility of human tenure on earth, in Gunda, master filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky reminds us that we share our planet with billions of other animals. Kossakovsky movingly recalibrates our moral universe, reminding us of the inherent value of life and the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own.