After a seven-year hiatus, Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski, 84, releases EO during a time of increased awareness about animals, the relationships between animals and other sentient beings – like humans, and between humans, animals, and the earth. The official website is here.
Co-written with Ewa Piaskowska, his wife, the trailer is stunning, inviting curiosity and emotion. As Scott Simon from NPR explains,
"'EO,' Jerzy Skolimowski's new film, opens on a pair of unforgettable eyes. They're the eyes of a donkey born in a Polish circus that closes, which sends the donkey onto a trail of decidedly un-Disney-esque (ph) adventures but real-life encounters with humans – some of them friendly, some of them callous and worse. "EO" has won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and his Poland's Oscar entry."
I like this review by John Powers because first, you can listen to it. Second, it doesn't assume that the listener knows about the background to the movie, "which is a riff on Robert Bresson's 1966 Au Hasard, Balthazar," nor the director's previous work, while also giving details to the longtime aficionados of Skolimowski's work.
"Now, a film like this normally focuses on the mean people who surround EO's wanderings. But the people here aren't all bad. Along the way, EO encounters all manner of human beings from the kind to the heartlessly brutal. Yet in a bold move, Skolimowski doesn't give precedence to the human side of things. He stays centered on his donkey hero, giving EO's existence an independence and worth equal to any of the humans we meet. We come to know the world from EO's point of view — the film's alien beauty suggests an animal's perceptions — and we share the donkey's emotions."
EO has already opened in New York City and Los Angeles, with more dates opening soon in Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland, Boulder, Pittsburg., Houston, Buffalo, Detroit, and Madison.
What I appreciate the most about anticipating this movie and sharing it with everyone is the immediate reflection on my relationship with animals, those I interact with knowingly and unknowingly. I have not seen the film yet.
Powers synthesizes this appreciation I'm trying to invoke,
"Part of what makes EO feel so alive is that it speaks to today's huge, ongoing shift in consciousness about animals and our increasing awareness that we treat them horribly. This is a film filled with compassion for the exploited, ill-treated creatures of this world and electric with anger at those who, through malice or thoughtlessness, perpetuate cruelty toward the powerless.
If you want to honor the discipline of self-flagellating Jesuits, check out this review by the odd, and oddly conservative National Review, which concludes, "Now that prestige art movies are either gross or failing at the box office, EO shows us that film culture is going through a jaded second childhood." It may be that the National Review is going through a "jaded second childhood." Maybe Bill Kristol has some answers. For now, as a well-known colloquial saying in Spanish goes, the NR is like Un burro hablando de orejas ("a donkey talking about ears").