Movie review: Earthlings
“We patronize the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other Nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time.”
– Henry Beston
“Earthlings” is a documentary about society’s treatment of animals used for food, clothing, entertainment, research, etc. It is beautifully produced, with excellent narration by Joaquin Phoenix and a beautiful and haunting soundtrack by Moby.
It is also extremely disturbing and hard to watch, because you know what is shown there is real.
But let me start with my conclusion: I think everybody should see this movie, out of respect for the animals that are suffering and dying under human domination. No excuses. If you’re vegan, you should see it to know what you’ve removed yourself from. And if you’re not vegan, you need to own up to your part in the horrible cost others are paying for your choices, and the only way to do that is knowing what that cost is.
After an introduction, the movie is divided into 5 parts: “Pets”, “Food”, “Clothes”, “Entertainment” and “Science”, each focusing on the treatment animals receive in each of those human activities. Joaquin Phoenix calmly narrates over footage obtained from many undercover or public sources, explaining what we’re seeing and at some points asking pertinent questions. From dogs and cats in municipal pounds to dolphins in the oceans around Japan, this documentary covers a vast amount of subjects. The fact that the videos show conduct and procedures considered “standard” animal treatment by our societies is to me powerful evidence of some of our worst failings as an intelligent race.
The entire movie is available for streaming online, for free, on the Earthlings website, where you can also buy the DVD containing an extended version with additional footage. They’re working on a second installment called “Unity”, so please support them by buying the DVD or making a donation.
You can also watch it right now, right here: