Blood of the Beasts (Georges Franju, 1949, France)

Blood of the Beasts is a 1949 documentary short by director Georges Franju. Franju is perhaps best known for his 1960 horror film Eyes Without a Face - a film that inspired everyone from rocker Billy Idol to Pedro Almodovar's excellent film The Skin I Live In. Franju also had a notable career outside the cinema, as one of the founders of the Cinematheque Francais, along with Henri Langlois, in the late 1930s. Franju began making documentaries in the 1930s and continued to do so throughout his career. Made soon after the Nazi occupation of France and revelations of the Holocaust, Blood of the Beasts shows the influence of its time.

The film seeks to relay the daily duties of slaughterhouse workers. Accompanied by rather detached voiceover narration from Georges Hubert and Nicole Ladmiral, Franju walks us through the daily routine of slaughterhouse workers. Ladmiral made a memorable appearance as Chantal in Robert Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest, but tragically died by suicide at age 28 by throwing herself in front of a subway car. Georges Hubert had a long career and even acted alongside Robert Mitchum in 1956's Foreign Intrigue.

Blood of the Beasts will be even more shocking to some audiences due to the slaughtering of horses, which opens the film. Franju juxtaposes the slaughterhouse sequences with the normality of peaceful everyday life in the local town. While the narration does do some editorializing, overall the film has an almost experimental, lyrical quality to it. Only near the end of the film does the film explicitly draw comparisons to the genocides that had recently happened. Franju was a talented filmmaker, and, unfortunately, he did not have a more prolific career. We look forward to seeing some of the other feature films that he made during the 1960s including Judex.



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