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.

Gangs of Wasseypur

Gangs of Wasseypur (stylized as Gangs of ाासेपुर). Anurag Kashyap, 2012.
Edition screened: Cinelicious Blu-ray, released 2015. Hindi language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 319 minutes.

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

Gates of Heaven

Gates of Heaven. Errol Morris, 1978.
Edition screened: Criterion Blu-ray #751, released 2015 and packaged with Vernon, Florida, #752. English language. Runtime approximately 83 minutes.

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

Although this comedy documentary is about real pet cemeteries and their human patrons, there are neither images nor graphic descriptions of dead animals.

Germany Calling

Germany Calling. Charles A. Ridley and Leni Riefenstahl, 1941.
Edition screened: Included on Criterion DVD #382 Overlord, released 2007. Scored, with no dialogue track. Runtime approximately 2 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence toward animals.

A comedic synchronization of scenes from Riefenstahl’s Third Reich propaganda film Triumph of the Will with the popular tune “The Lambeth Walk”.

Ghost World

Ghost World. Terry Zwigoff, 2001.
Edition screened: MGM DVD, released 2002. English language. Runtime approximately 111 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

The Ghoul

The Ghoul. Gareth Tunley, 2016.
Edition screened: Arrow Blu-ray, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 85 minutes.

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

The Ghoul is a good and intelligent film, and the Arrow release also includes Tunley’s 2013 entertaining short film The Baron.

Giorgio Moroder Presents “Metropolis”

Giorgio Moroder Presents “Metropolis”. Fritz Lang and Giorgio Moroder, 1984.
Edition screened: Included in Eureka! Masters of Cinema Metropolis “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray #16, released 2015. Scored, and with English subtitles, no dialogue track. Runtime approximately 83 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Moroder’s famous tinkering with Metropolis appealed to a huge group of young people in the 1980s and made them aware of the high art of German Expressionist filmmaking, be that awareness accompanied by comprehension or not. Moroder altered the original Metropolis by adding some color tinting, typical 1980s neon-looking special effects, and most significantly, a soundtrack of 80s disco music – that amorphously-edged slice from the homogeneous flow of disco that we were brow-beaten into calling New Wave back when we once had a collective love and it was a collective gas [cue hi-hat: Choock-a-doocka WHAM-a-doocka; Choock-a-doocka WHAM-a-doocka].

Moroder’s revision predates the discovery of significant original Metropolis footage thought lost, and the subsequent extensive restorations undertaken in the early 21st century. As such, Moroder’s 83-minute run-time is pared down from the short and bedraggled cut common in the 80s, not from the grand 150-minute spectacle common today. And while Lang’s Metropolis uses intertitle cards that tend to stay on the screen for a long time, Moroder removed these text panels and replaced them with English subtitles. As such, a great deal of Moroder’s shortening of the already short version can be attributed to removing intertitle cards - with no particular detriment to the masterwork film.

It frequently is said that MTV handicapped generations of western culture by eroding their attention spans and conditioning them to instant gratification (#Bull shit no way!). But those concerns relate to the existences of individuals, and those souls are encouraged to move on and do better, Peace be with you. Far more detrimental to society at large was the implanting of the notion that everything in life can be a music video, and should be if properly conceived, and the parallel notion that bits and pieces of fine film or images of great architectural ruins are improved by pop music playing in the backforeground. Those young people of the 1980s are today’s corporate boobs who insist that every gas-pumping, shoe-buying, and produce-selecting moment of our already noisy lives be further adorned with continual pop music. Thus, the tubby guy wearing shower shoes and a Miami Dolphins T-shirt can visualize how cool he looks standing at the ATM in some nonexistent music video, all day, every day.

It is typical of Moroder’s era to be overly entertained by coincidental approximate synchronization between some pop song and a film clip shot seventy-five years earlier. This is the generation whose major cultural innovation was synching The Wizard of Oz with Dark Side of the Moon, after all.  If viewed with sufficient cultural stays, Moroder’s doctoring of Metropolis is perfectly watchable as produced, and becomes even enjoyable with the sound turned off. Muting the sound is a bit like after shouldering the easy chore of babysitting a child who has all four limbs bound, then making the task more pleasant by introducing a cleave gag that provides not only relief from the noise but also the satisfaction of salvaging some control over a compromised environment.

The Girl Next Door

The Girl Next Door. Gregory Wilson, 2007.
Edition screened: Anchor Bay DVD, released 2007. English language. Runtime approximately 91 minutes.

Summary: Earthworm torture.

Details: At 7:24 a single night crawler is removed from a group in a can, and placed in a red ants’ nest. The ants begin to attack it, the camera shift to boys discussing ant wars, and the camera returns to a second image of the worm under attack, 7:44.

The Girl Next Door is based on the real story of a young girl who is imprisoned and tortured in the basement of an Anytown USA house. While many aspects of the story and the way in which the story is told merit discussion, this particular telling of the lie of mid-century innocence is especially heavy and makes a clunky weapon.

The viewer is intended to identify with young David, who is almost the hero and who almost tried to save the poor girl. The story is told by poor, poor David, now in his fifties and making a huge salary on Wall Street. From time to time poor David is very upset by his recollection of watching a nice girl being slowly tortured to death over the course of one summer in his youth. He is so upset that he just has to put on his boots and walk into the woods and toss a rock in disgust.

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train. Tate Taylor, 2016.
Edition screened: Universal Blu-ray, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 112 minutes.

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

Girls Against Boys

Girls Against Boys. Austin Chick, 2013.
Edition screened: Arrow DVD, released 2015. English language. Runtime approximately 89 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Glasgow 1980

Glasgow 1980. Oscar Marzaroli, 1971.
Edition screened: Included on BFI ‘Flipside’ Blu-ray #29 That Sinking Feeling, released 2014. English language. Runtime approximately 30 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Glass Lips (Blood of a Poet)

Glass Lips (Blood of a Poet). Lech Majewski, 2007.
Edition screened: Kino DVD, released 2008. Elaborate score and sound effects, no dialogue track. Runtime approximately 94 minutes.

Summary: Minor butchering.

1) Typical imagery of pork hanging on hooks in a meat locker, 53:49-55:44.
2) A large black sheep is stalked and we see a spear thrown, 1:06:45-1:07:06, but no killing of the animal. The sheep is shown lying dead on its side at 1:07:25, no blood.
3) Brief return to the meat locker, 1:11:44-1:21:00.

I believe the director intentionally avoided killing and brutality while still employing the symbolic significance of meat and primitive hunting styles


Gloria! (The Death of Magellan: Gloria!). Hollis Frampton, 1979.
Edition screened: Included on Criterion Blu-ray #607 A Hollis Frampton Odyssey, released 2012. English Language. Runtime approximately 10 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

God Damn Religion

God Damn Religion. Richard Bishop, 2006.
Edition screened: Locust DVD, released 2008. Scored, no dialogue track. Runtime approximately 31 minutes.

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

God Told Me To

God Told Me To. Larry Cohen, 1976.
Edition screened: Blue Underground Blu-ray, released 2015. English language. Runtime approximately 90 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Gods of the Plague

Gods of the Plague (GĂśtter Der Pest). Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1969.
Edition screened: Included in Arrow DVD box set The Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Commemorative Collection 69-72 Volume 1, released 2007. German language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 88 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence toward animals.