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Review: 'Gunda' a Beautiful Surprise

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Apr 16, 2021

If someone told me I would be spellbound and gob-smacked by a black and white documentary about a pig and her offspring hanging out on a farm — with no narration or music — I would have thought they were crazy.

Whelp, I guess I'm nuts, because the new doc "Gunda" as beautiful, upsetting, meditative, and as thought-provoking as they come.

Directed by documentary filmmaker Viktor Kosakovskiy, this steady and gorgeous look at life on a farm is thrilling in the most contemplative ways. The film opens with a large female pig (Gunda) who has just given birth to her brood of piglets. We watch as they fall over themselves for a drink from her udders as Gunda just lays there letting nature do its thing. Eventually, we meet the runt of the litter in what becomes one of the more disturbing moments of the film, but then we're off again as the piglets curiously head out of the barn for the first time. (Adorable!)

We watch as the family traverse endless fields, mud pits, and more, suckling on mom. And while this might seem like a slog, I was shocked when I thought the movie had only been playing for fifteen minutes, but forty had already gone by. It's a swift 90 minute film.

But it's not just the adorable piglets we see going about their lives, we also meet a one-legged chicken and a host of cows. Their race out into the fields in slow motion is a glorious moment of joy that brought a huge smile to my face.

The film itself relies solely on the sounds of the animals and the nature around them. We hear the rustling of the trees or grass, and the faint traipsing of the animals as they move about the expansive farmland. It's an incredibly relaxing soundscape, and the design of it is wholly impressive.

Kosakovskiy is simply an observer, and he gets down to the level of the animals and allows us to experience their lives firsthand. It's wonderful to be a part of these sentient beings' lives and get a different perspective on animals many of us look at as just a means to an end, meaning, food.

The last ten minutes are some of the most heartbreaking I've seen in years. That's not to say anyone should avoid the film because of a sad ending, because they should not. This is a fresh perspective on the lives of animals, and it's one I would gladly visit again.

GUNDA opens everywhere April 16, 2021.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.

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