Our Daily Bread (Unser Taglich Brot) (tbc)


The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/01/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 92 mins

Surprisingly engaging documentary that manages to be soothing, fascinating and disturbing in equal measure.

What's it all about?
Directed by German filmmaker Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Our Daily Bread is a documentary about food production, composed entirely from lengthy shots of factory production lines and high-tech farming procedures in modern Europe. There's no voiceover, no interviews, no music - not even a caption to identify the different locations.

With the film stripped of any commentary, you're left to focus entirely on the processes themselves and they range from the fascinating to the surreal and the genuinely disturbing. Highlights include: hundreds of baby chicks being hoovered up and spat out into trays on a conveyor belt; a woman cutting off dead pigs' trotters on a production line; a machine hoovering up salmon; and a cow giving birth by Caesarean section - the cow is standing at the time and barely seems to notice.

The Good
If you're old enough to remember Play School, you could be forgiven for thinking you're watching Through The Round Window: The Movie. However, there are also some unexpectedly beautiful images, such as a crop-spraying tractor gradually extending its arms to fill the entire width of the screen.

Humans play an interesting part in the film - at times they seem like extensions of the factory itself, mechanically doing the tricky jobs (such as ear-tagging squirming piglets) that the machines can't do. However, the film also occasionally shows factory workers having a cigarette break or eating their lunch, which has an oddly calming effect. (Amusingly, two of the workers look exactly like the 118 118 twins).

The Bad
Though for the most part the film actively avoids showing you anything too distressing, there are some upsetting scenes towards the end with cows getting stunned prior to slaughter and squeamish types may wish to give the film a miss altogether.

Worth seeing?
If you can stomach the Our Daily Bread’s grislier moments, this is a fascinating and unusual documentary that is well worth seeing. Appropriately for a film that often feels like an art exhibit, it's playing exclusively at the ICA.

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Content updated: 24/07/2012 03:36

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