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Film Maudit 2.0: "Anonymous Animals," and "Killing Small Animals"

Two silent films switching power between Homo Sapiens and Animalia.  


A man walks in the mist. Blood drops out of a dead animal. The man casually looks at the animal and continues his walk. Before we can make any sense out of it, the screen turns black. In the next scene, we are put in a forest where a man struggles to break free from a chain tied around his neck. The smoke may have dissipated, but the mystery remains. Who is this man? Who tied him up? In another scene, three people are killed by something that doesn't sound human. What is going on? 

Baptiste Rouveure slowly eases us into his fantasy world. The premise of Anonymous Animals rides on the question: What if the power dynamics between humans and animals changed? What if the behavior and mannerisms of both are interchanged? What happens when the hunter becomes the hunted? 

The answers give rise to Anonymous Animals, where both the words of the title apply to the human beings in the film. You recognize the stag reloading his shotgun, the horse in the butcher room. Or the dogs howling during a fight. However, you don't know who the people are or what (or which animal) they are meant to represent. They are deprived of names and voice. The only sound you will hear from them is that of screams. 

By flipping the positions, Rouveure gives an intelligible language to a quadruped's pain. A pig cannot communicate his feelings, change his expressions, and articulate his tribulations in a way that is perspicuous to the man who is about to skin him. Their cry for help is unfathomable. Through these humans-turned-animals, the anonymity of their cry becomes identifiable. The troubles are palpably felt. 

Anonymous Animals employs intricate sound design for its narration. The arrival of a car, a roar coming from a distance, the ominous sound of leaves as someone steps on them are all reproduced distinctly. A tense moment occurs when one of the captives attempts to flee. This whole stretch excellently utilizes the language barrier between the two species as an advantage to craft an uncertain tension. Imagine a horse riding on a person, whipping him to gain speed. It is scary, absurd, and funny at the same time. That's Anonymous Animal for you.   



Change directors, and there is a change in the model. If Baptiste Rouveure allowed animals to rule on humans, Marcus Svanberg shifts back to the normal mode placing us on the higher level in Killing Small Animals - a film shot in just one day (a fantastic achievement)! 

Shot splendidly, Killing Small Animals starts on a gentle, heavenly tone. There is an elegant house with windows allowing bright sunlight to land on plants and flower pots. A woman (Louise Peterhoff) wipes white figures and tenderly touches the leaves. Suddenly she spots a butterfly and takes it on her delicate fingers, radiating a lovely smile. The room is filled with sunlight giving an illusion of heaven. But that's just what this is: an illusion. Within the next few seconds, the butterfly is crushed under the weight of those very fingers it rested on. This woman is no Mother Teresa. 

Whether she is suffering from a mental disorder is up for debate. Her mind is twisted, no doubt. Though it comes from a disease or was developed at a certain age, we don't precisely know. The husband barely looks at her, and the puzzle pieces substitute her muddled psychology. Killing small animals gives a sense of control to this woman. Subsequently, it also makes her sick of herself. Svanberg has left the last scene in ambiguity. It may be my cynical mind overpowering the other side, but I think the situation will keep on getting bleak and dark for this lady. There is no light at the end of this tunnel. 

Similar to Rouveure, Svanberg works on an idea and takes it to extremes. How, when, why are inessential. What arises with a butterfly soon moves on to a cat inside an oven. Some horrifying things happen with a blending machine. Killing Small Animals can be a disturbing horror film for hardcore animal lovers, both big and small. Viewer discretion advised.         

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from Movie Reviews https://moviesinmydna.blogspot.com/2021/01/film-maudit-20-anonymous-animals-and.html
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