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.

Shadows of Progress: Documentary Film in Post-War Britain 1951-1977

Shadows of Progress: Documentary Film in Post-War Britain 1951-1977. Various directors, 1951-1977.

Edition screened: BFI DVD set, released 2013. English language. Cumulative runtime approximately 828 minutes.

Summary: This excellent collection contains the following films organized onto four DVDs. Some films include scenes of animal deaths. See individual titles for details.

Disc one: The Island
David (Paul Dickson, 1951)
To Be a Woman (Jill Craigie, 1951)
The Island (Peter Pickering, 1952)
The Elephant Will Never Forget (John Krish, 1953)
Sunday by the Sea (Anthony Simmons, 1953)
Henry (Lindsay Anderson, 1955)
Foot and Mouth (Lindsay Anderson, 1955)
Birthright (Sarah Erulkar, 1958)
They Took Us to the Sea (John Krish, 1961)
Faces of Harlow (Derrick Knight, 1964)

Disc two: Return to Life
Thursday’s Children (Lindsay Anderson & Guy Brenton, 1954)
There Was a Door (Derek Williams, 1957)
People Apart (Guy Brenton, 1957)
Return to Life (John Krish, 1960)
Four People (Guy Brenton, 1962)
A Time to Heal (Derrick Knight, 1963)
Time Out of Mind (Eric Marquis, 1968)

Disc three: The Shadow of Progress
Three Installations (Lindsay Anderson, 1952)
The Film That Never Was (Paul Dickson, 1957)
Stone Into Steel (Paul Dickson, 1960)
From First to Last (Anthony Simmons, 1962)
People, Productivity and Change (Peter Bradford, 1963)
Shellarama (Richard Cawston, 1965)
Picture to Post (Sarah Erulkar, 1969)
The Shadow of Progress (Derek Williams, 1970)

Disc four: Today in Britain
Today in Britain (Peter Hopkinson, 1964)
I Think They Call Him John (John Krish, 1964)
Portrait of Queenie (Michael Orrom, 1964)
Education for the Future (Derrick Knight, 1967)
Tomorrow’s Merseysiders (Eric Marquis, 1974)
Time of Terror (Eric Marquis, 1975)
The Shetland Experience (Derek Williams 1977)