OOM #25 – Le sang des bêtes (1949)


What a lovely day, let’s fuck it all up. That’s the idea of Halloween, right? Making an enjoyable time of the year completely scary and un-enjoyable? Anyway, today the Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness talked about the film ‘It Follows’ (2014), the most recent in their countdown. I’ve seen it, I’ve reviewed it (in Spanish) and thought that it was good, but not worth the epithets other people have laid on it. So, from 1946 we jump to 1949 to see this short documentary. A weird choice for a horror film marathon? Well, let’s wait and see.

I’m not in a good shape right now. And this didn’t help at all. This isn’t a hard expose on the real world behind slaughterhouses in the 1940’s in France, as much as it’s an artistic rendition of a point of view through documentary footage. Directed by Georges Franju (which makes this the second horror film directed by him that we have on this year’s countdown), this movie moves from the outskirts of Paris to the slaughterhouses to bring a portrait of a city still in construction, as if the blood of the beasts that cover the streets is still the blood of the innocents that died in the Second World War. There’s a way in which he frames the sequences, he is not trying to hide the fact that the butchers are performing for us, they are making their own kind of “art” and its horrific not because of how inhumane the conditions are for animals, I mean, if they’re not going to kill the animals, who will? The horrific is the resulting imagery: the horse collapsing after the shot to the head, I assume breaking its bones with the fall; the gutting of cows, horses and calves; the decapitated corpses still twitching and moving; the assembly line of death in which the animals see their brothers and sisters being decapitated before them; the idea of the “traitor” that directs the rest of the animals to their death… All of it is the most striking imagery that one can muster, and this documentary can be compared to ‘Las Hurdes’ (1933), which featured similarly horrific imagery that was prepared by the director in a documentary way to portray its ideas. This visual essay by Franju isn’t a condemnation nor an issue starter (thus, it did start the discussion of the  issue of slaughterhouses in France), it’s one of the most powerful works of horror art that has ever been produced, and it’s a bummer to watch so much hot blood, steaming and rising fumes, and we can do really nothing about that reality.




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