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.

Design for Living

Design for Living. Ernst Lubitsch, 1933.
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Edition screened: Criterion Blu-ray #592, released 2011. English language. Runtime approximately 91 minutes.

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

The Criterion release also includes a 1964 British television play of Design for Living (80 minutes, directed by Joan Kemp-Welch), and a 2 ½-minute film The Clerk, starring Charles Laughton and directed by Ernst Lubitsch for the omnibus film If I Had a Million (1932).

Destiny (Lang)

Destiny (Der müde tod). Fritz Lang, 1921.
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Edition screened: Kino Blu-ray, released 2016. German intertitles with English subtitles, no dialogue track. Runtime approximately 105 minutes.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Devil (Dowdle)

Devil. John Erick Dowdle, 2010.
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Edition screened: Universal Blu-ray, released 2010. English language. Runtime approximately 80 minutes.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Devil’s Advocate

Devil’s Advocate. Taylor Hackford, 1997.
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Edition screened: Warner DVD, released 1998. English language. Runtime approximately 144 minutes.


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

Dixie Ray Hollywood Star

Dixie Ray Hollywood Star. Anthony Spinelli, 1983.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome DVD #072, released 2015. English language. Runtime approximately 101 minutes.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals. 4/5

The Diary of a Nobody

The Diary of a Nobody. Susanna White, 2007.
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Edition screened: Second Sight DVD, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 116 minutes.

Summary: No particular references to violence or harm toward animals.


This release includes all four episodes of the BBC comedy starring Hugh Bonneville as Pooter.

Dheepan

Dheepan. Jacques Audiard, 2015.
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Edition screened: Criterion Blu-ray #871, released 2017. Tamil and French languages with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 114 minutes.


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

Diary of a Country Priest

Diary of a Country Priest (Journal d'un curé de campagne). Robert Bresson, 1950.
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Edition screened: Criterion DVD #222, released 2004. French language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 115 minutes.

Summary: Rabbit hunting.

Details: We hear rifle shot, then see a hunter and his yapping dog. Cut to the hunter bringing two enormous rabbits to the priest, 14:43-15:07.


Disco Godfather

Disco Godfather. J. Robert Wagoner, 1979.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #127, released 2016. English language. Runtime approximately 98 minutes.

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

There is a quick and indistinct image of a prop that appears to be a small stuffed animal, like from a carnival coin toss, covered in black paint and with a piece of dirty pink ribbon attached to its ‘stomach’ area, but it is equally possible that the prop is a small crudités tray dipped in tar and with a piece of upholstery fabric attached to its ‘condiment’ area. In either case I think it is meant to represent a murdered dog, and in either case does not cause any particular alarm. That state of calm contrasts wth the other 97 minutes and 56 seconds of Disco Godfather, which filled me with with constant fear that some unwelcome interruption such as cardiac arrest might impede my ability to eject the disc.

Disconnected

Disconnected. Gorman Bechard, 1983.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #199, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 84 minutes.

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

Also included is Bechard’s very good 1987 film Twenty Questions, never released prior to this 2017 Vinegar Syndrome package.

Doberman Cop

Doberman Cop (Doberuman Deka). Kinji Fukasaku, 1977.
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Edition screened: Arrow Blu-ray, released 2017. Japanese language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 90 minutes.

Summary: Rough handling of a small pig.

Details: The provincial police detective brings his pig with him to Tokyo. It is handled roughly, but seemingly not injured, 15:48-16:38.

Doctor Dracula

Doctor Dracula. Al Adamson and Paul Aratow, 1978.
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Edition screened: Included on Vinegar Syndrome Blu-ray #205 Lucifer’s Women, released 2018. English language. Runtime approximately 88 minutes.

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

Adamson created Doctor Dracula by recutting Aratow’s barely-seen Lucifer’s Women, about an author/illusionist who is possessed by the soul of Svengali and entangled with a group of satanists who need a human sacrifice, don’t they always. Adamson deletes the partial nudity, the mild lesbianism, and the abusive nightclub owner, and substitutes sideplot #1 about an unrelated woman who wants to communicate with her dead/undead mother, sideplot #2 about a vampire in cahoots with the satanists, and an elderly John Carradine who provides his usual slightly charming 1970s performance.


DodgeBall

DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story. Rawson Marshall Thurber, 2004.
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Edition screened: 20th Century Fox DVD, released 2004. English language. Runtime approximately 92 minutes.


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

Dogtooth

Dogtooth (Kynodontas). Yorgos Lanthimos, 2011.
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Edition screened: Kino Blu-ray, released 2011. Greek language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 94 minutes.

Summary: Beating of a dog and murder of a cat.

Details:
1) A dog is hit with a rod to agitate him during a guard dog training session, 26:27-26:43.
2) A cat is attacked and murdered with a pair of hedge shears, 43:18-43:30. After some skipable dialogue, we return to the cat’s disemboweled body, 43:54-44:00.  Violent, bloody, and real looking.


La dolce vita

La dolce vita. Federico Fellini, 1960.
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Edition screened: Criterion Blu-ray #733, released 2014. Italian language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 174 minutes.


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