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.

The Saga of Gösta Berling

The Saga of Gösta Berling (Gösta Berlings saga). Mauritz Stiller, 1924.
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Edition screened: Kino DVD, released 2006. Scored and with English intertitles, no dialogue track. Runtime approximately 183 minutes.

Summary: Around the 2 hour 33 minute mark, a sleigh races across the frozen land, trying to escape a pack of wolves. Greta Garbo throws her muff, purse, and some other fur accessory out behind the sleigh to distract the wolves. Several long shots show the wolves viciously tearing apart some wolf-sized animal, definitely not a handbag. It all is hazy and vague, but the sight of the wolves ripping apart the “prop” is successfully violent.

This is an excellent film. Well told, well acted, and the new score is consistently enjoyable, sometimes excellent. 

Same Player Shoots Again

Same Player Shoots Again. Wim Wenders, 1967.
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Edition screened: Included on Criterion Blu-ray #814 Alice in the Cities, in The Road Trilogy box set #813 released 2016. German language. Runtime approximately 12 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Sartana’s Here … Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin

Sartana’s Here … Trade Your Pistol for a Coffin (C'è Sartana ... vendi la pistola e comprati la bara! / Fistful of Lead). Giuliano Carnimeo (as Anthony Ascott), 1970.
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Edition screened: Included in Arrow Blu-ray box set The Complete Sartana, released 2018. Original English or original Italian dub with English subtitles. Approximately 92 minutes.

Summary: Animal abuse as light comedy.

Details:
1) Sartana shoots a crowing rooster from his hotel window. Slow motion viewing suggests that the shot hits just below the rooster’s foot, and he tumbles from his perch. Subsequent dialogue portrays that the rooster has been killed. 42:42-42:46.
2) A knife is thrown at, and hits, an obviously plastic spider. 1:07:13.

No, it does not appear that the rooster was killed. No the spider was not real. No I do not care. No these portrayals are not appropriate or funny.

Satan’s Brew

Satan’s Brew (Satansbraten). Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1976.
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Edition screened: Included in Arrow DVD box set The Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Commemorative Collection 73-82 Volume 2, released 2007. German language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 106 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence toward animals.


The Scarlet Claw

The Scarlet Claw. Roy William Neill, 1944.
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Edition screened: Included in MPI The Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection Blu-ray set, released 2011. English language. Runtime approximately 74 minutes.

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

Scenes at Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park Corner Underground Stations

Scenes at Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park Corner Underground Stations. Unknown director, 1931.
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Edition screened: Included in BFI Blu-ray/DVD set Underground, released 2013. Scored, no dialogue track. Runtime approximately 6 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Scenes of passengers in Underground stations.

Scenes From Under Childhood, Section One

Scenes From Under Childhood, Section One. Stan Brakhage, 1967.
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Edition screened: Included in Criterion Blu-ray box set #518 By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volumes One and Two, released 2010. No dialogue track. Runtime 23 minutes, 46 seconds.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

The School (Borowczyk)

The School (Szkkola). Walerian Borowczyk, 1958.
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Edition screened: Included on Arrow Blu-ray Story of Sin, released 2017. Scored, no dialogue track. Runtime approximately 7 minutes.


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

Scorpio

Scorpio. Michael Winner, 1973.
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Edition screened: MGM/UA DVD, released 2000. English language. Runtime approximately 114 minutes.

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


Alain Delon treats cats nicely throughout the film.

The Scum of the Earth

The Scum of the Earth. Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1963.
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Edition screened: Included on Arrow Blu-ray Blood Feast, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 75 minutes.


Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch (Hungary Wives, Jack’s Wife). George A. Romero, 1972.
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Edition screened: Included in Arrow Blu-ray box set George A. Romero: Between Night and Dawn, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 104 minutes.

Summary: No depictions of violence or harm to animals.

An excellent film, hampered only by a few cheesy decisions during the dream-sequence introduction that unfortunately tilt the movie’s reputation toward that of “B” movie or drive-in fodder. While the introduction contains some badly-produced special effects and wincey inclusions, it also is compelling and interesting in the vein of Don’t Look Now’s superb opening. After this intro and the main character’s short but dopey visit to her psychiatrist’s office, Season of the Witch is 90 minutes of excellence: acting, costuming, dialogue, tone, sets, pacing, all are superb. Even the representations of witchcraft are not too idiotically pandering.

The Seduction of Cindy/Tara Tara Tara Tara

The Seduction of Cindy/Tara Tara Tara Tara. Leonard Kirtman (as Leon Gucci), 1980.
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Edition screened: Vinegar Syndrome DVD #227 Peekarama: The Seduction of Cindy/Tara Tara Tara Tara, released 2018. English language. Cumulative runtime approximately 158 minutes.

Summary: No animals in either feature.

The Seduction of Cindy, 1980, approximately 80 minutes. 4.5/5
Tara Tara Tara Tara, 1980, approximately 78 minutes. 3/5

The Seduction of Mimi

The Seduction of Mimi (Mimì metallurgico ferito nell'onore). Lina Wertmüller, 1972.
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Edition screened: Kino Blu-ray, released 2012. Italian language with English subtitles. Runtime approximately 112 minutes.

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


Seeds

Seeds. Andy Milligan, 1968.
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Edition screened: Included on Vinegar Syndrome Seeds/Vapors Blu-ray #196, released 2017. English language. Runtime approximately 81 minutes.

Summary: No animals or references to animals in the film.

The VS release also includes the ‘sexploitation’ cut of Seeds, titled Seeds of Sin (78 minutes). Several scenes in Seeds incorporate some brief female nudity of the late-60s drive-in sort, just enough to get one’s attention. In Seeds of Sin these scenes are substantially longer but not more explicit. The most striking addition is the opening scene of several nude couples rolling around, these more-attractive actors do not appear in Seeds, and their dialogueless scene is unrelated to the subsequent film.

The appeal of Seeds lies in unravelling the complicated incestuous past shared by a large group of half-siblings during one day of hysterical screaming and accusations. Seeds of Sin makes viewing less clear and less fun by swapping eight or so minutes of content and dialogue for stagnant montages of backs, thighs, and breasts.

Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol. 1: Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies

Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol. 1: Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies. Seijun Suzuki, 1958-1965.
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Edition screened: Arrow box set, released 2018. Japanese language with English subtitles. Runtime of feature films approximately 449 minutes.

Summary: A few dicey moments with live chickens, but no particular depictions of violence or harm to animals.

The Arrow release includes supplemental materials and five feature films. See individual titles for details.

The Incorrigible (1963)
Born Under Crossed Stars (1965)

I found these early Suzuki films surprisingly entertaining and charming. Some better than others, not an outright stinker in the bunch, and all indicating the bravura filmmaking to come. The Boy Who Came Back is the least ambitious of the group but not bad. The Wind-of-Youth Group has the good-natured charm of a better Elvis movie. Teenage Yakuza is good, while The Incorrigible and Born Under Crossed Stars are downright excellent.