The Moya View

Eo: Transfiguring the Suffering of Every Living Thing

Courtesy of Janus Films

Plot via IMDB:

The world is a mysterious place when seen through the eyes of an animal. EO, a grey donkey with melancholic eyes, meets good and bad people on his life’s path, experiences joy and pain, endures the wheel of fortune randomly turn his luck into disaster and his despair into unexpected bliss. But not even for a moment does he lose his innocence.


Eo, a film about a single donkey’s life, is visually ravishing as it is emotionally devastating. The tile comes from the onomatopoeia of a donkey’s braying in Polish. Eeeeeooooo. The heart of the animal in the very sound it makes.

The French Catholic director Robert Bresson in 1966 made a similar donkey tale in Au Hassard Balthazar. It was a dour soul searing spectacle where the mule was a stand in for Christ and his final walk to the cross. Eo has no such religious messaging underneath. There is no anthropomorphism, just a donkey being a donkey and either humans being either mercifully loving or merciless cruel. The balance of Eo’s life is more the second than the first. Also the film is in color and not black and white. Eo is more intent on preaching an environmental message over a religious one.

Courtesy of Janus Films

The 84 year old director, Jerzy Skolimowski, traces Eo’s (played by six gray donkeys) story from circus performer to his final sad end. Among his many owners— an animal act heroine, a beast of burden for a scrapyard, a farmer. In equal measure he escapes and is briefly free— passing through echoes of forest and man made landscapes (windmills and dams) degraded by hunters and other human savagery and cruelty— and is captive and exploited or the burden of pointless cruelty. At one point he is beaten by rival gangs of soccer hooligans and witnesses the green laser nocturnal deaths of hunters rifles. That scene has the same emotional power of Bambi’s mother death.

Courtesy of Janus Films

Skolimowski is constantly switching between an objective long shot reality and a closeup, subjectiveness that attempts to capture Eo’s emotional and mental states. The donkey witnesses wild horses running free from the narrow windows of a transport van. He is enthralled by fish swimming in an aquarium. The choppy and speedy editing attempts to mimic Eo’s fear and bewilderment. The focus is heavily impressionistic and nonlinear. Narrative doesn’t exist in this donkey story, just like it doesn’t exist in the animal world

Courtesy of Janus Films

There is an awkward scene toward the end featuring Isabelle Huppert. After Eo has been transported to an estate in Italy by a sympathetic traveler. The donkey grazes in the distance while Isabelle Huppert makes a cameo in a brief scene that is perhaps designed to link “Eo” to the French cinematic tradition from which it sprang.

Courtesy of Janus Films

Skolimowski is still an assured and audacious filmmaker. Eo’s fate is both shocking and unsurprising.  The sadness is assuaged by the rapturous empathy in which it’s told. 

Eo gets an 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.


Credits:

Directed byJ

erzy Skolimowski

Written by

  • Jerzy Skolimowski
  • Ewa Piaskowska

Produced by

  • Jerzy Skolimowski
  • Ewa Piaskowska

Starring

Cinematography

Michał Dymek

Edited by

Agnieszka Glińska

Music by

Paweł Mykietyn

Production
companies

  • Skopia Film
  • Alien Films

Release dates

  • 19 May 2022(Cannes)
  • 30 September 2022(Poland)

Running time

88 minutes

Countries

  • Poland
  • Italy

Languages

  • Polish
  • Italian
  • English
  • French

Courtesy of Janus Films

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Comments

One response to “Eo: Transfiguring the Suffering of Every Living Thing”

  1. caroline46 Avatar

    Interesting but I can’t get Eeyore out of my head.

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