Despite the grim content, this description of three abbatoirs (horses, cattle, sheep) is no vegetarian tract. What most fascinates Franju is the inflicting of violent death as a matter of banal 9-to-5 routine. We soon pick up the process: the pickaxe through the skull, the throatcutting, the steaming blood (it's winter) spilling across the stone floor, the hacking and dismembering. We become accustomed to the echoing sounds: the banging and clattering, someone off-camera singing 'La Mer'. The slaughterhouses are placed in geographical context, with Kosma's lilting waltz theme accompanying an evocation of the outskirts of post-war Paris: canals, junk markets, scrubby wasteland. It's a gift of a subject for a surrealist like Franju: an everyday nightmare, at once atrocious and outlandishly beautiful.
Georges Franju, Jean Painlevé
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