Michael Glawogger’s Workingman’s Death has found a sibling in Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Our Daily Bread, which gives us this day an ostensibly sobering all-access pass into the world of industrial food manufacturing—sans music, narration, and talking-head interviews. Both films are speciously aestheticized and work on their audience not unlike implicit association tests, only Geyrhalter, who gawks at his subjects from distanced wide-angle vantage points, is a more passive-aggressive eyewitness to his subject matter. The Benny’s Video of documentary films, Our Daily Bread‘s only point is to have none—to invite the audience to draw its own conclusions about the nature of where our food comes from via a rhythmic montage of sights and sounds of high-tech farming practices and food cultivation. Among the horrors: a plane dumps its pesticide load on a field of sunflowers, chicks are pulled from a sea of yellow in order to have their beaks branded, and pigs are slit open by monster machines before their guts are sorted by meticulous human hands. Intermittingly spliced into this gruesome fold are glimpses of workers eating and drinking and riding to (or from) the industrial complexes where the film was shot, from which we’re meant to contemplate what sort of effect, if any, working at these plants has on the individual. Our Daily Bread is a unique audio-video sensory experience, most striking in the exactness of its aloofness and monotony. A richer, more intimate film experience, Ron Fricke’s Baraka, grapples in part with the same subject matter, only with greater philosophical curiosity and imagination.
- First Run/Icarus Films
- 92 min
- Nikolaus Geyrhalter
- Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Wolfgang Widerhofer
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