EO review: A modern-day masterpiece
Deccan Chronicle.| Ajit Andhare
EO has anthrozoology as its main theme and tilts heavily in the favour of animals
This is one movie that will warm the cockles of animal lovers and activists as it is a definite piece of work on the bestiality of humans towards animals. Source: Twitter
Movies are linguistically agnostic. In a recent interview, elaborating upon his five-minute-long opening shot sans dialogues in his debut feature film ‘Swayamwaram’, noted filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan said that the habit of explaining everything to the audiences needs to be broken. Cinema is a visual medium and the images must be self-explanatory.
A shining example of this thought is Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski’s ‘EO’. The 84-year-old filmmaker’s latest offering is a movie that doesn’t bank on dialogues at all. Instead, it speaks volumes through its imagery.
‘EO’, one of the contenders for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ Oscar, has anthrozoology as its main theme and tilts heavily in the favour of animals.
In this 88-minute-long movie images, background score, and music outnumber and outshine dialogues in exploring the world of Eo, a circus donkey. Circumstances force Eo to wander from Poland to Italy and with his travel travails the audiences are introduced to a world of kindness and cruelty by humans towards animals. There are dialogues for not more than five minutes in the first 50 minutes of the movie. And it makes sense, as the protagonist of our story, a donkey, can’t speak any of the human languages. Still, there is no dearth in portraying what Skolimowski wants to say. The message is loud and clear.
Eo comes across lots of good, bad, and ugly people in his journey but stays indifferent to all of them and the situations and circumstances around them. But in the process, the filmmaker tells us about the depravity humans display while dealing with animals. At times, man becomes more animal than an animal. While Eo continues to long for the love and affection of Kasandra, his handler in the circus, humans see him only as an animal, occasionally reminding him of how he can be a salami.
Micha Dymek had quite a challenge at hand to show this world from a donkey’s point of view. Accordingly, most of the shots are tight close-ups of Eo focusing on his eyes, or scenes unfolding from his head’s level to give us a feeling that he is seeing them. Animals and their portrayal is prioritized in this anthropomorphic tale.
Jerzy Skolimowski and Ewa Piaskowska’s story humanizes animals and animalizes humans.
This is one movie that will warm the cockles of animal lovers and activists as it is a definite piece of work on the bestiality of humans towards animals. At the same time, it offers a lot of fodder for thought for cinephiles to discuss and debate the imagery offered like the circus, recurring red strobe light, windmills, killed birds and animals, and a robot dog. It also has a hilarious football match scene which ultimately has a devastating result. Do not miss the scene in which Eo is traversing on a bridge with waterfalls in the backdrop, or the scene showing fog first and then a snowy landscape when he finally crosses over to Italy.
‘EO’ is one of the few movies which has an animal as the lead character and yet it is not meant for children for sure. It is supposed to be watched by thinking adults. There is also a wonderful track involving Isabelle Huppert towards the end of the movie. Wish it was expanded more.
Adorned with outstanding scenes shot at breathtaking locales sporting myriad hues, ‘EO’ is a modern-day masterpiece. The way Eo is treated by the people with whom he comes into contact holds a mirror to humans and their understanding of humanity. ‘EO’ is braying for your attention on Prime Video.
OTT: Prime Video
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Cast: 6 donkeys who play Eo, Isabelle Huppert, Sandra Drzymalska, Lorenzo Zurzolo