Wednesday, November 01, 2006


George, the British Empire at present covers a quarter of the globe, while the German Empire consists of a small sausage factory in Tanganiki.OUR DAILY BREAD is a brilliant documentary by the Austrian film-maker Nikolaus Geyrhalter. For ninety minutes he takes us behind the scenes of industrial food production - everything from vegetable growing to arable farming to artificially inseminating cows and gutting pigs. There is no narrative and no deliberate dialogue - the only sound is incidental. The story is told by the beautifully and deliberately framed wide-angle shots of mechanised farming. I know this sounds a bit pretentious but the footage is mesmerising. The slow tracking of the camera as it follows a production line that literally has cattle or baby chicks or pig intestines in it is absolutely transfixing!

The overall effect of the film is to persuade us of the harsh reality - and sometimes the absurdity - of food production. Incidentally, by treating his human subjects in the same way as the cattle or machinery, the film-maker makes a point about the automated process by which we consume food - scooping up mass produced lunches in stainless steel canteens. From start to finish, the film seems to be saying, we have become alienated from our daily bread.

I have to say that this movie is a lot more engaging that a review can intimate - the conceit sounds so sterile and bizarre. But this documetary really is worth giving a go. Its silence is eloquent, and makes a superb if less main-stream companion piece to FAST FOOD NATION.

OUR DAILY BREAD showed at Amsterdam 2005 and went on release in Austria in April 2006. It played London 2006 and is on release in New York. It opens in the Netherlands and Germany in January 2007.

1 comment:

  1. Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
    Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
    Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
    Tinned minds, tinned breath.

    Mess up the mess they call a town-
    A house for ninety-seven down
    And once a week a half a crown
    For twenty years.