Blood Of The Beasts; Le Sang Des Betes

1514. BLOOD OF THE BEASTS (Le Sang des Betes) (1949-France). Directed by GEORGES FRANJU. This film is a masterpiece: a groundbreaking, landmark documentary, as well as the film which established its creator, Georges Franju, as one of the most formidable and influential of 1950s French filmmakers. It opens with a view of a Paris suburb that is peaceful, ordinary comfortably familiar. Children play; lovers kiss; then, Franju switches to a slaughterhouse, where workers routinely-and graphically- transform live animals into disembowelled carcasses in an orgy of carnage and blood. On one level, these images alone make the film as jarring as the most effective horror thriller. At the same time, they compel us to confront the realities of the world in which we live: a world that is filled with everyday horror and pain. Furthermore, according to Franju, some of this may even be justified: without the ritual of the slaughterhouse, after all, how could we enjoy the meat products that we find so neatly, convenientfy packaged and displayed at the supermarket? Critics the world over have hailed Blood of the Beasts. The film contains “single frames that are among the most disturbing in the cinema” (David Thomson). It is a “ferociously lyric outburst of rage” (Tom Milne), and “is one of the most poetic postwar documentaries, full of strangely surrealistic touches” (GeojgesSadoul). According to Jean Cocteau, the film “proved that the cinema is a vehicle for realism and lyricism.” In French, with English subtitles. 22 minutes. Documentary