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Our Daily Bread [Import]

Claus Hansen Petz , Arkadiusz Rydellek , Nikolaus Geyrhalter    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

Price: CDN$ 33.08 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hi-tech grub May 8 2009
By Robin Benson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I found this a highly unusual and visually fascinating documentary about primary food production, both animal and vegetable. The lack of any sort of commentary initially annoyed me because so much of what is shown raises the question: what's going on here but after a while I found I was settling down to the rhythm of the editing. The way director Geyrhalter places the camera and then just lets it roll will grow on you. Even where there is some fast machinery the shot is invariably a static one of the equipment.

The documentary looks at fruit and vegetable production and collection, animal husbandry of chickens, cows, pigs and nicely I thought, fish farming plus a visit to a salt mine. The most eye opening thing to me was the amount of mechanization involved in food production though it seemed that the equipment had been designed to work most efficiently when the fruit, animals or fish were standard sizes. Despite the huge investment in equipment on these European farms (or plants) it was still cost effective to employ shift-workers.

There are some quirky scenes: several of workers having a break, eating or having a cigarette (these were just long static shots looking at the person); spraying everything in a slaughter house with some sort of foam (a detergent maybe) digging small holes in mounts on a field and either planting or collecting something. I would have thought an occasional black strip across the bottom of the screen with a white caption would not have hurt the integrity of the movie and helped the viewer.

Despite what others might say I found nothing shocking in the movie. This usually refers to animal slaughter but it is done in a simple straightforward way with machinery doing most of the work and rather intriguingly everything shown involving animals is done at a reasonable speed in these factories.

The movie concentrates on primary food production and not the industrial creation of processed food...maybe that's Geyrhalter's next assignment. Overall a very impressive and visually remarkable look at the subject and one of those documentaries that is certainly worth seeing more than once.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocked and speechless April 27 2009
By J. Kim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Just like the previous review, I am shocked to find that there is only one review for this incredible film. The fact that there is no voice over makes this film that much more powerful. One of the most significant films I watched this year. Watch this film- it will be 1.5hrs you spent meaningfully. It opened my eyes. I am deeply grateful to the filmmakers.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful movie!! April 7 2009
By Tom G. Gambill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was shocked when I looked up this movie and didn't see any reviews. I saw this last year and was just mesmerized as I watched it. In many places, it is silent and yet the images it creates are powerful and perplexing. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone, it makes a great companion to Schlosser's Fast Food Nation or SuperSize Me.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and disturbing Nov. 24 2009
By Un francais en angleterre - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This is a beautiful and profoundly disturbing documentary. That it manages to be both at the same time is a paradox. I'll explain a bit more how.

Like the movie Manufactured Landscapes by Edward Burtynsky, "Our Daily Bread" takes a look at aspects of our world that are not always readily accessible or known to most citizens of western countries. With a steady decline of agricultural and industrial workers over the years, most of us have little idea of what it takes to produce what we consume. This is certainly true for our food, the topic of this movie. Again, like Manufactured Landscapes, this documentary is "only" a sequence of very well composed and lit shots, without interviews or voice over. This may disturb or annoy some. I find this to be an extremely effective approach, as it makes one confront more directly ones own feelings and in the end gives more impact to the images.

While the author certainly has an agenda, I don't think it's an extremist one. He does not try to denounce the difficulty of working in the meatpacking industry or attempt to portray what is happening to the animals that will be processed as particularly horrible. His aesthetics are cold and distant, even maybe "scientist". Everyone will need to make up one's mind. But the way he frames most of his shots using highly symmetrical or geometrical compositions certainly contributes to the creation of a eery feeling of "elsewhere". That's the artistic and thematic bias of the movie: to show us that what lands on our plates comes from places we don't know about and don't think about.

One important point to note is that we typically don't get to see the end processing of the food products. Most of the steps shown are very much upstream in the food processing chain: animals are slaughtered and cut into pieces, but you don't see how they're turned into hamburgers or ready made meals. Only a few salads are packaged into plastic bags the way you will see them in supermarkets. This is very much in line with my observation above that the author is interested mostly in the less familiar. But be forewarned that while this is not a documentary about "the crap that we eat", certain images are extremely powerful and may stay with you a long time. Having watched Baraka I had already seen little chicks on conveyor belts, but this is nothing compared to the efficient violence with which bigs are cut in two and eviscerated, or full frontal cow slaughtering. The movie ends with the meat packing plant being cleaned up. It may not be so easy for you to forget what you saw. This might even be a good thing.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The soulless economy of food production Sept. 20 2009
By Guy Denutte - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Have you ever wondered how chickens are "being produced", as if they were "animal machines" ? Or how cows are being milked today ? Or what kind of outfit people have to wear when they spray our tomatoes with those "harmless" - if we may believe the FDA - pesticides ?

Nikolaus Geyrhalter comments on his film : "I wanted to collect and make accessible images from this branch, this world in as objective a manner as possible. What makes it fascinating are the machines and the sense of what's doable, the human spirit of invention and organization, even at close quarters with horror and insensitivity. Plants and animals are treated just like any other goods, and smooth functioning is extremely important. The most important thing is how the animals can be born, raised and held as efficiently and inexpensively as possible, how to treat them so they're as fresh and undamaged as possible when they arrive at the slaughterhouse, and that the levels of medications and stress hormones in the meat are below the legal limits. No one thinks about whether they're happy."

Watch this DVD and be amazed, or horrified ! There are no interviews, no music either. You are left alone with your thoughts.

If you like what you see, the smooth functioning of the machines and the lack of happiness of our "animal machines", continue to enjoy your hamburger at McDonald's.

If you don't like it, think of how farming was done less than a century before. Farmer John Peterson says : "It used to be that everyone in this country had a connection to farms, but now most of these farms have gone". I think we should reestablish this connection. Peterson also uses a certain level of mechanization, but it doesn't go berserk. Watch his DVD to see another form of farming, very different to what you will see in this documentary : The Real Dirt on Farmer John. Peterson's farm, Angelic Organics, has 1200 shareholders from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme. Each shareholder receives each week a box full of fresh and healthy vegetables and fruits. This way, the farm performs its historical role again, reuniting the people with the source of the food.

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