The kind folks at Evolutus PR sent me a DVD copy of Earthlings to review. After watching it, I am not sure whether to throw up, cry, or a mixture of the two. Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, and written and directed by Shaun Monson, this documentary packs a visual punch that is bound to impact anyone who sees it. Maybe I am just a major weenie (I've been told that a few times), but I actually had to watch the film over the span of a few days because I could only handle so much at one time. Most of the footage is undercover camera shots from slaughterhouses, factory farms, animals testing sites, puppy mills, circuses, and zoos. The film questions the assumption that humans are superior to animals, and compares our species-ism to the other "isms" that have blighted humankind's past: racism, sexism, etc. It then shows, in graphic detail, the gruesome results of our desire to make animals service our perceived needs (food, clothing, entertainment, and research).
And now for the film critic part: while the film has an incredible visual impact, I felt that it lacked a variety of voices that makes documentary film-making interesting. Shaun Monson's commentary is at times monotonous, and other times hyperbolic. No one was interviewed for the film, so Monson via Pheonix is the only voice we hear. I personally found it a bit tiring, even though I agree with what the movie is trying to say.
That being said, Earthlings makes a valuable contribution by exposing what goes on behind the purposefully closed doors of the animal-harvesting industry. It reinforced my commitment to veganism, and I can see why they call the film "the vegan maker."
For friends and family who read this blog and would like to see the film, drop me a line. I would be more than happy to lend it out.