Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Big Animal

The Big Animal (Duze Zwierze) is a modest and witty Polish film directed by Jerzy Stuhr, from a script written by Krzysztof Kieslowski. The little story goes like this - One night a camel miraculously appears in a couple’s front year and then becomes their beloved pet. However, this big animal is seen differently by people in town as a dangerous beast, a fancy attraction, a means for making money…The couple start getting all kinds of pressures from their community and town government, until the camel disappears one night. Missing their friend, the couple take the train to Warsaw zoo to see camels. In the final shot, they are smiling at three beautiful creatures who return sweet kisses on a peaceful snowy winter day.

Kieslowski created a fable criticizing not only the Polish society but also society and humanity in general. The camel exists as a mirror: as we look into this “monstrous” beast, what we really see is the very monster inside man: society’s intolerance on anything alien, as well as man’s greed to exploit animals in every possible way. This perspective recalls Robert Bresson’s masterpiece Au hasard Balthazar which observes human conditions through the tragic life and death of a donkey. Lynch’s The Elephant Man is an extreme case examining society’s level of intolerance.

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