Thursday, March 17, 2016

Killer of Sheep Review

Killer of Sheep is over 30 years old, yet it is a film that hardly feels dated. In fact, it is incredibly relevant and topical today, a film that focuses on people struggling daily with the reality of poverty. I am lucky enough to not be able to personally relate to the characters or the struggles they face, but I can appreciate them and empathize with them. This film thrives in it's simplicity, allowing me to care so much for their lives because director Charles Burnett approaches this with an almost documentary style. I never once felt like I was watching actors working off of a script, because the realism of the subjects felt like I was getting an intimate look at their lives.

As the film ended, I felt it lacked a bit of wow factor or any aspect that soared enough to send it into the realm of films that I hold in the highest regard. That's not to say I wasn't impressed though, it is a superbly well made film that really doesn't do anything wrong. Killer of Sheep is impossible to disregard and deserves to be seen, and I would imagine for some it hits hard and all too close to home.

Stan works in a slaughterhouse in the film, constantly dragging around sheep and ending their lives in a second. These animals live a mundane existence in a tight room, an entire life without any real joy or experiences, their sole purpose to be killed. I think Burnett is trying to tell us it could be worse. The people we see in the film are living tough lives in not so ideal conditions, but at least they get to feel something. Stan gets to touch his wife, hold his daughter, and talk to his friends.

He stands above these creatures as a dominant, powerful figure, and as long as he is living and breathing, no matter what life throws at him, he will always be stronger than something. Any person could be a killer of sheep.


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