Our narrator is a donkey, but this story is far from asinine.
Jerzy Skolimowski’s “EO,” which shared the Cannes Jury Prize along with “The Eight Mountains” this year, centers on the titular donkey, who is taken from his circus performer owner by a group of animal activists. Yet EO’s life remains in the service of humans despite their efforts, and EO acts as a witness to the many adventures life has to bring.
“EO” is playing at the London Film Festival, New York Film Festival, and Mill Valley Film Festival. The film will open in New York on November 18 and in Los Angeles on December 2 from distributor Janus Films and Sideshow.
“The popular opinion [is] that donkeys are stubborn and stupid, but I disagree. Stubborn? Yes, sometimes very stubborn. But not stupid. I found them extremely intelligent animals,” Polish director Skolimowski told Variety. “The whole film is dedicated to the idea of changing people’s attitude towards animals, to actually make people aware that animals, like humans, are full of feelings and sentiments and shouldn’t be treated like objects. They need interest and sensitivity in handling, a feeling of safety and compassion.”
Skolimowski added, “I wanted to generate a sympathetic feeling between the people watching the movie and our main hero, the donkey, and other animals.”
“EO” is also billed as a “visually experimental ‘remake’ of Robert Bresson’s 1966 black-and-white drama ‘Au Hasard Balthazar,'” as the IndieWire review pointed out.
Skolimowski continued to Variety that he saw Bresson’s film in 1966 and that he was “very impressed by the film” upon first viewing. “In an interview I gave soon after I saw the film, I mentioned that it was the only occasion that, at the end of the film, tears appeared in my eyes,” Skolimowski said. “This was the lesson I got from Bresson: That an animal hero is able to move you even more than a human hero.”
As the IndieWire review noted, “Ingmar Bergman said after watching Bresson’s film: ‘A donkey, to me, is completely uninteresting, but a human being is always interesting.’ By focusing almost entirely on his donkey, Skolimowski takes the unenviable task of challenging Bergman head-on — and, it seems, proves him wrong.”
“Eo” premieres in New York November 18 and Los Angeles December 2.
Check out the trailer below.