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.

The Complete Jacques Tati

The Complete Jacques Tati. Jacques Tati et al., 1934-1978.
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Edition screened: Criterion Blu-ray box set #729, released 2014. French language with English subtitle. Cumulative runtime approximately 600 minutes.

Summary: On demande une brute features the cruel killing of a fish. The other films have no particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

The Criterion set includes the following films by or relevant to Tati, along with ample bonus material. Click on individual titles for details:

Gai dimanche (1935)
Jour de fête (1949 B&W, 1964 partially colorized, and 1995 fully colorized versions)
Mon oncle (1958, along with My Uncle version)
Cours du soir (1967) 
Play Time (1967)
Trafic (1971)
Parade (1974)
Forza Bastia (1978)

The Complete Jean Vigo

The Complete Jean Vigo. Jean Vigo, 1930-1934.
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Edition screened: Criterion Blu-ray set, released 2011. French language with English subtitles. Cumulative runtime of feature films approximately 163 minutes.

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

This indispensable collection includes all four of Vigo’s feature films:

À propos de Nice (1930)
Taris (1931)
Zéro de conduite (1933)
L’Atalante (1934)

The Criterion release includes a trove of better-than-average supplemental material, including Jacques Rozier’s 1964 documentary made for French TV and an animated tribute by Michel Gondry.

The Complete Monterey Pop Festival

The Complete Monterey Pop Festival. D.A. Pennebaker, 1968-1986.
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Edition screened: Criterion Blu-ray box set #167, released 2017. English language. Compiled runtime of feature films, approximately 288 minutes.

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

This third release by Criterion of the Monterey Pop Festival includes a slew of interviews and other supplemental material, along with the features:

Monterey Pop (D.A. Pennebaker, 1968)
Monterey Pop: The Outtake Performances (D.A. Pennebaker, 1987)
Jimi Plays Monterey (D.A. Pennebaker, 1986)
Shake! Otis at Monterey (D.A. Pennebaker, 1986)
Chiefs (Richard Leacock and Noel E. Parmentel, 1986)

The Concert for Bangladesh

The Concert for Bangladesh. Saul Swimmer, 1972.
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Edition screened: Rhino DVD, released 2005. English language. Runtime approximately 103 minutes.


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

Concert of Requests

Concert of Requests (Koncert zyczen). Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1967.
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Edition screened: Included with The Scar in the Kino DVD box set The Krzysztof Kieślowski Collection, released 2005. Polish language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 15 minutes.


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

Concorde

Concorde. Pierre Jallaud, 1966.
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Edition screened: Included on Flicker Alley Blu-ray Cinerama’s Russian Adventure, released 2016. English language. Runtime approximately 15 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

A documentary about the design and theoretical testing of the Concorde.


The Conformist

The Conformist (Il Conformista). Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970.
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Edition screened: Raro Blu-ray, released 2014. Italian language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 113 minutes.


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

The Conjuring 2

The Conjuring 2. James Wan, 2016.
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Edition screened: Warner Blu-ray, released 2016. English language. Runtime approximately 134 minutes.


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

Conversation Piece

Conversation Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno). Luchino Visconti, 1974.
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Edition screened: Eureka! Masters of Cinema Blu-ray # 148, released 2016. English language. Runtime approximately 122 minutes.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Corporate Assets

Corporate Assets. Thomas Paine, 1985.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome DVD #124, released 2016. English language. Runtime approximately 104 minutes.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals. 5/5

Corpse Fucking Art

Corpse Fucking Art. Jörg Buttgereit, 1992.
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Edition screened: Included on the Der Todesking Blu-ray in the Cult Epic box set Sex Murder Art: The Films of Jörg Buttgereit, released 2016. German language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 58 minutes.

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

This documentary about the making of Buttgereit’s first three full-length features is better than most such featuretts. Humble but intelligent discussions of the home-made special effects and glimpses of cast and crew on-set reflect well on all involved. Much better than cable TV-style making-ofs that showcase talentless 20-year-olds calling Robert De Niro “Bob” and saying it was “Soooo amazing – really really really great – to work with him.”



The Corpse Grinders

The Corpse Grinders. Ted V. Mikels, 1971.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #192, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 73 minutes.

Summary: Rough handling and autopsy of cats.

Details:
1) A Siamese cast is handled roughly then thrown to the floor, 10:35-10:43. He walks away appropriately angry and insulted, but is ok.
2) A black cat is thrown violently by a derelict man (we see only the man’s upper body, with all implied violence offscreen with sound effects), 23:36-23:40.
3) Autopsy of the black cat -- a real autopsy scene of a real dead cat strapped to a table. There is a jump cut to this unexpected scene as soon as the derelict man says “Poor Annie” to the doctor (25:07). At that moment, skip ahead to 25:33, to hear the nurse ask “How's it goin’?” as she enters the room.

Corruption

Corruption. Roger Michael Watkins (as Richard Mahler), 1983.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #098, released 2015. English language. Runtime approximately 79 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.1/5

The Vinegar Syndrome release also includes an unrestored transfer of Watkins’ The Last House on Dead End Street (1977).

Cosmos (Żuławski)

Cosmos. Andrzej Żuławski, 2015.
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Edition screened: Arrow Blu-ray, released 2016. French language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 102 minutes.

Summary: Recurring scenes of hanged animals.

Details:
1) Scenes of a dead sparrow hanging by the neck, of a plucked chicken hanging by the neck, or both, appear frequently throughout the film. The scenes are not gory in excess of their factual content, and occur at 0:52-1:04, 3:58-4:12, 6:57-7:000, 16:10-16:33, 18:35-18:57, 41:43-41:47, 48:28-48:38, 49:48-49:52, and 59:09-59:12.
2) A house cat is found dead, hanged in the backyard at 49:05 and remains on screen during dialogue through 50:09.

Cosmos is many things, including a murder mystery about who killed these animals and what the next crime might be. As such, we repeatedly see the same few incidents while characters discuss and rehash. 

Count Dracula’s Great Love

Count Dracula’s Great Love (El gran amor del conde Drácula). Javier Aguirre, 1973.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #132, released 2016. Original Spanish language with English subtitles, or English dub. Runtime approximately 83 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals. 3/5

Bonus points! . . . 

This is the version of the Dracula tale where the Count strolls through the woods releasing rabbits from traps unharmed.