“Eo”: the world at the height of a donkey


by Jerzy Skolimowski

Polish film, 1 h 27

Once upon a time there was a donkey in a Polish circus, pampered by his trainer. Then came the time of the forced separation. And the beginning of a wandering through Europe where this solitary quadruped, with a melancholy gaze, under his resigned air, has every opportunity to observe humanity, while walking towards his tragic destiny. Jerzy Skolimowski has chosen the donkey, this marginal animal, always somewhat forgotten, too often bullied, seeking to escape a hostile world, to describe the state of humanity in the 21st century. Eo (Polish translation of our “hi-han”, this cry to which we reduce the condition of this animal) walks its innocence, always threatened, among men. The weakness of this biblical animal reveals our collective excesses.

Eo, visual poem, stunning, symphony of colors, at times incoherent (the episode with Isabelle Huppert, or the scene with a robot dog), distills a fascinating aesthetic attraction, crowned by the jury prize at the last Cannes Film Festival. At 84, after almost a decade of silence on the big screen, Jerzy Skolimowski, who is also a painter and a sculptor of sounds, a tailor of images, is back in force with this allegory carried by the humblest of animals, mocked, mocked, beaten, who observes and suffers. The scenario writer tends to make us understand that he does not think less about it and would even be the most lucid judge on the man.

Against a backdrop of climatic apocalypse

To see the world from the point of view of the donkey, against a backdrop of climatic apocalypse and the destruction of animal species, is also, inevitably, to engage in a meditation on the current state of humanity. Her lack of empathy, her individualism, her ferocity (drinking and violent supporters, murder of a truck driver to evoke the drift of the migratory phenomenon), with a counterpoint, the tender character of the trainer, the woman who whispered in her ear of the donkey.

This sumptuous fable, after a confused episode in Italy, the final destination of the donkey which left Poland to end up as salami, ends in the corridor of a slaughterhouse, a sequence which denounces the industry of death, and suggests the memory some camps. Biographical reminder for this Polish filmmaker, part of whose family was gassed in the Nazi camps.


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