Le Sang Des Bêtes (1949) (aka Blood Of The Beasts)
Georges Franju
20 Min.

Georges Franju’s Blood of the Beasts (1949) is perhaps the kind of film that you obtain when you mix poetry and snuff. Detailing the everyday work of Parisian slaughterhouses, Blood of the Beasts is a film that manages to rise above its gore-quotient to explore what exactly a ‘society’ is. Franju cuts back and forth between the serene, romantic and sacred city of Paris, where the church carries on its duty, absolving people of their sins and providing solace for the dying, and the slaughterhouses in its suburbs where cattle are beheaded in a mechanical fashion like units on a production line.  We are also shown the people who slay these animals and process them for those outside this building. They carry out their routines dispassionately and with no moral dilemmas whatsoever. In fact, never does Blood of the Beasts cry out about it all or take an ideological stance like some propagandist video. It merely presents us facts – purely scientific at times – and gradually reveals to us the questionable basis upon which our so-called ‘civilization’ is built and the moral impasse that it has brought us to. Franju apparently did not want to film the movie in colour since he felt it would be too much to take for the audience. But coming to think of it, had Franju decided to shoot Blood of the Beasts in colour, the movie would have been elevated to a different level altogether. Imagine the mere implication of including the colour red in a film that opens with romance and culminates with bloodshed. But I’m not going to complain, since the black and white too, in a way, provides an odd and tranquil beauty to this gem of a film that strikingly blends conventional documentary and fictional narration.


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