Blood of the Beasts (1949)

  • Year: 1949
  • Released: N/A
  • Country: France
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  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: French
  • MPA Rating: N/A
  • Genre: Documentary, Short
  • Runtime: 22 min
  • Writer: Georges Franju, Jean Painlevé
  • Director: Georges Franju
  • Cast: Georges Hubert, Nicole Ladmiral, Alfred Macquart
  • Keywords: gore, butcher, meat, slaughterhouse, animal abuse, animal cruelty,
90% – Critics
false% – Audience

Blood of the Beasts Storyline

An early example of ultra-realism, this movie contrasts the quiet, bucolic life in the outskirts of Paris with the harsh, gory conditions inside the nearby slaughterhouses. Describes the fate of the animals and that of the workers in graphic detail.—

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Blood of the Beasts Movie Reviews

An astonishing document.

An astonishing document.

A documentary shot with a surrealist aesthetic; images of unimaginable horror and violence–all perfectly real and unstaged–filmed with a languid and beautiful poetry. The images in this documentary about the slaughterhouse–the “abattoir,” in the language of the narrator–are filmed with an almost cavalier, deadpan, unflinching clarity. The images of the lingering struggles of a decapitated calf; the satiny musculature exposed beneath the skin of a butchered cow, and the horrible but poetic moment when we see that the heart still beats beneath the sinews; the bored whistle of the beret-capped worker tapping the steaming spray of a horse’s heart’s blood; and then, the canal-concealing camera angle that shows us a barge bisecting a field of grass: “Blood of the Beasts” is a breathtaking celebration of the visual philosophy of surrealism.

One of the most horrifying films of all time – and it’s just an ordinary day at a slaughterhouse

Luis Buñuel was Georges Franju’s favorite filmmaker. Now imagine the shocking eyeball- slicing scene of “Le Chien Andalou” (which, as you may well know, was a dead sheep’s eyeball) taken to the goriest consequences: Franju takes his camera to a slaughterhouse in the outskirts of post-war Paris, and the appalling scene from Buñuel & Dali’s classic feels like child’s game compared to what is shown in this short documentary.

Here, we see — in all horrifying details, truth and gore — horses, cows, calves and sheep being matter-of-factly, bureaucratically slaughtered by dexterous butchers with axes, knives, hammers, and they don’t even stop their smoking or casual whistling while doing their jobs. Among these indelible, nauseating scenes, we see an employee “caressing” a horse’s head seconds before fatally puncturing its skull; the Berkeleyish “chorus line ballet” of decapitated sheep’s paws; the still convulsive trunk of one decapitated, blood-drained, paw-less calf; and the gallons of steaming blood serving as an “illustration” of Charles Trenet’s famous song “La Mer” (“The Sea”), heartily sung by one of the workers. In “Le Sang des Bêtes” you will see probably the most horrifyingly graphic scenes EVER filmed.

This film brings uncomfortable thoughts: on the one hand, how most of us — consumers — implicitly condone with this methodical, “impersonal” slaughtering of domestic, harmless creatures as long as we don’t think very much about how meat, leather, soaps, etc “magically” appear at the supermarket or in a store. On the other hand, we wonder how butchers and other slaughterhouse workers manage to sublimate guilt, compassion and repulsion in a totally matter-of-fact, professional manner (they have to earn a living), proving how human beings can adapt to almost ANY circumstance (surely then-recent WW2 Nazi horror in concentration camps is very clear reference in “Le Sang…:”).

“Le Sang…” features as an extra on the DVD that brings Franju’s horror masterpiece “Les Yeux Sans Visage” (1959) and it’s totally apropos: it’s a perfectly macabre pas-de- deux. Impossible not to link the cold-hearted slaughter and skinning of the animals in “Le Sang…” with high-brow-gone-berserk surgeon Pierre Brasseur face-skinning his helpless victims with flawless craftsmanship in “Les Yeux”. (Once again, the Nazi concentration camp “scientific” experiments are paralleled).

This is compulsory viewing for animal-rights activists and environmentalists. Don’t even think of watching “Le Sang des Bêtes” if you’re faint-hearted or after a meal; and beware you meat-eaters, this one may turn you in a vegetarian or at least make your next hamburger taste REALLY bad.

Very shocking,but almost lyrical documentary.

“Blood of the Beasts” by Georges Franju is among the most horrifying documentaries I have ever seen.Its unflinching depiction of animal butchery will certainly upset many potential viewers.The film is set in a Parisian slaughterhouse.We see various butchers slaughtering horses,cows,calves and sheep.This film is very graphic without being exploitative,though-Franju simply documents the activities in a slaughterhouse circa 1949.It’s very well done-the images are strong,often disturbing-and the camera acts almost as a neutral observer,seeing all.This is a good film,but I only recommend it with a strong warning about its content.So if you are squeamish don’t watch this short.8 out of 10.