Heads Up, Ears Down

This blog accurately identifies depictions of violence and cruelty toward animals in films. The purpose is to provide viewers with a reliable guide so that such depictions do not come as unwelcome surprises. Films will be accurately notated, providing a time cue for each incident along with a concise description of the scene and perhaps relevant context surrounding the incident. In order to serve as a useful reference tool, films having no depictions of violence to animals will be included, with an indication that there are no such scenes. This is confirmation that the films have been watched with the stated purpose in mind.


Note that the word depictions figures prominently in the objective. It is a travesty that discussions about cruelty in film usually are derailed by the largely unrelated assertion that no animals really were hurt (true only in some films, dependent upon many factors), and that all this concern is just over a simulation. Not the point, whether true or false. We do not smugly dismiss depictions of five-year-olds being raped because those scenes are only simulations. No, we are appalled that such images are even staged, and we are appropriately horrified that the notion now has been planted into the minds of the weak and cruel.


Depictions of violence or harm to animals are assessed in keeping with our dominant culture, with physical abuse, harmful neglect, and similar mistreatment serving as a base line. This blog does not address extended issues of animal welfare, and as such does not identify scenes of people eating meat or mules pulling plows. The goal is to itemize images that might cause a disturbance in a compassionate household.


These notes provide a heads-up but do not necessarily discourage watching a film because of depicted cruelty. Consuming a piece of art does not make you a supporter of the ideas presented. Your ethical self is created by your public rhetoric and your private actions, not by your willingness to sit through a filmed act of violence.

Bad Day at Black Rock

Bad Day at Black Rock. John Sturges, 1955.
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Edition screened: Warner DVD, released 2005. English language. Runtime approximately 81 minutes.

Summary: Display of a deer carcass.


Details: In this extremely realistic fiction, two men who would kill you in an instant drive into town all smiles with a dead deer strapped to their car,11:14-11:40, as though that were an appropriate inclusion in one day in one’s life.

Bag Boy Lover Boy

Bag Boy Lover Boy. Andres Torres, 2014.
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Edition screened: Severin Blu-ray, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 78 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

The Severin Blu-ray also includes two short films featuring, and presumably written and directed by, Bag Boy Lover Boy star Jon Wachter. Got Light? (1:13) is a silent black-and-white comedy about a sexual encounter gone very wrong, and The Never-Starting Story (1:22) is a “nothing happens” movie with amusing director commentary. 

Bal

Bal (Honey). Semih Kaplanoğlu, 2010.
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Edition screened: Included in Artificial Eye box set The Yusef Trilogy, released 2011. Turkish language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 100 minutes.

Summary: Comparatively minor display of animal carcasses.

Details: Stagnant view of men working the Butchering exhibit at a Turkish heritage festival, 1:21:22-1:21:30.

Although not graphic, this unnecessary inclusion of irrelevant butchering is unfortunate in a film otherwise filled with understated spirituality and magical realism.

Baron Blood

Baron Blood (Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga). Mario Bava, 1972.
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Edition screened: Arrow Blu-ray, released 2013. Original English or Italian language options, and even a German version with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 98 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

A movie involving witchcraft and spells, seeking out a contemporary witch to help revenge an old witch, a haunted castle, and general terrorizing of the populace . . . with no bloody animals left on front steps. Hard to believe.

The Baron

The Baron. Gareth Tunley, 2013.
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Edition screened: Included on Arrow Blu-ray The Ghoul, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 9 minutes.

Summary: No animals or references to animals in the film.


A very amusing short film. Recommended.

Bartholemew, the Strangler

Bartholemew, the Strangler. Gorman Bechard, 1983.
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Edition screened: Included on Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #185 Psychos in Love, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 7 minutes.


Summary: No animals or references to animals in the film.

Basket Case

Basket Case. Frank Henenlotter, 1982.
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Edition screened: Included in Second Sight Blu-ray set Basket Case: The Trilogy, released 2016. English language. Runtime approximately 90 minutes.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Basket Case 2

Basket Case 2. Frank Henenlotter, 1990.
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Edition screened: Included in Second Sight Blu-ray set Basket Case: The Trilogy, released 2016. English language. Runtime approximately 90 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

I rather enjoyed BC 2, almost as much as I hated 3. Basket Case 2 is the Godfather II of Basket Case movies, But with far more Jolt Cola product placement.

Basket Case 3: The Progeny

Basket Case 3: The Progeny. Frank Henenlotter, 1992.
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Edition screened: Included in Second Sight Blu-ray set Basket Case: The Trilogy, released 2016. English language. Runtime approximately 90 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Jim O’Doherty as “Little Hal” does a great job delivering about 20 seconds of fast, well written comedy lines. Carla and Carmen Morrell pack more sexual satisfaction into their 20-second cameo than most under-clothed actresses deliver in an entire movie. But that’s it.  If you’re not interested to limit your viewing of Basket Case 3 to just those 40 seconds, then skip it all together. The remaining 89 minutes and 20 seconds is like sitting through some Steven Spielberg movie shot on a tight budget. And I love the silent H in sitting.

The Beaches of Agnès

The Beaches of Agnès (Les Plages d'Agnès). Agnès Varda, 2008.
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Edition screened: Cinema Guild DVD, released 2010. French language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 110 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

The Cinema Guild release of this superb documentary also includes three short works by Varda:

Le Lion volatil (2003)
Around Trapeze Artists (2008)
Daguerre-Beach (2008)

Beast Stable

Beast Stable (Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable/Joshuu sasori: Kemono-beya). Shunya Itô, 1973.
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Edition screened: Included in Arrow Blu-ray box set Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection released 2016. Japanese language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 87 minutes.

Summary: Aquarium smashing.

Details:
1) A dead crow is floating in the water, 49:16-49:20.
2) A small aquarium is smashed on the floor sending eels everywhere, 50:00-50:04.

The Beatles Anthology

The Beatles Anthology. Bob Smeaton and Geoff Wonfor, 1995.
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Edition screened: EMI DVD box set, released 2003. English language. Runtime approximately 674 minutes.


Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento

La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento. Jacques Rivette, 1993.
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Edition screened: Included in the Artificial Eye 3-DVD set La Belle Noiseuse: Definitive Edition, released 2009. French language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 125 minutes.

Summary: Taxidermy action.

Michel Piccoli and Jane Birkin own an old French castle, in which she has a small taxidermy studio and he has a huge painting studio. Several dialogue scenes take place in the taxidermy studio, in which there sometimes is vague action on a table involving a bird specimen. There is no focus on or explanation of the taxidermy work. The studio is a symbolic place for dialogue to occur.

Details:
1) Michel Piccoli is in frame carrying a dead rabbit, 7:48-8:00.
2) Taxidermy studio dialogue 34:00-35:45.
3) Taxidermy studio dialogue 53:15-54:50.
4) Taxidermy studio dialogue 1:24:26-1:26:40.

La Belle Noiseuse: Divertimento is about half the length of the original film and creates a somewhat different, still excellent, viewing experience. In part, we get less of Michel Piccoli’s excellent portrayal of a tired artist, and more of the relationship between Jane Birkin and Emmanuelle Béart.

The Belly of an Architect

The Belly of an Architect. Peter Greenaway, 1987.
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Edition screened: BFI Blu-ray, released 2012. English language. Runtime approximately 119 minutes.

Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.


The BFI release also includes Greenaway’s 1981 exposé on British domestic designer Terence Conran, made for the BBC series Insight (14 minutes).

Best in Show

Best in Show. Christopher Guest, 2000.
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Edition screened: Warner DVD, released 2001. English language. Runtime approximately 90 minutes.


Summary: No particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.