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EO (2022, POLAND) – 8/10


Movies starring animals are usually aimed at children, but Polish veteran Jerzy Skolimowski is an auteur who doesn’t exactly make movies for children. Although the main character of “EO” is a donkey, this avant-garde, stylized allegorical adventure drama about a mage’s journey through present-day Poland is anything but a movie for children. It is poetic and artistic, in rare moments humorous, more often sad, a film about the world seen from the eyes of a donkey that offers a lot to think about. Skolimowski found inspiration in the film “Au Hasard Balthazar” by the French modernist Robert Bresson from 1966, in which the main protagonist is also a donkey who changes owners, and they generally do not treat him in the nicest way.

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Because a donkey is an animal that is used to suffering, to suffering, to hard life and physical work. And just a few carrots as a reward. Eo, a lovable gray donkey who was played by six of these wonderful animals, did not have a godlike life even in the circus, where he occasionally worked with the trainer Kassandra (Sandra Drzymalska). Even the beginning of the film was shot in an avant-garde, expressionistic style, with flashy colors, stroboscopic lights, and the visual strikingness is one of the features of that film. Well, even though it was a circus attraction, life with Kassandra was certainly a poem compared to what would follow when the circus closed after protests by animal rights activists.

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He will end up during his odyssey mostly with bad and even worse people, and don’t worry, it’s not one of those pathetic heart-wrenching movies about animals, mostly dogs, who pass numerous obstacles, walk hundreds and thousands of kilometers to reach their owners. “EO” could also be described as a series of unusual vignettes about today’s Poland and its people, but it is not only a story about Poland, but something universal, and Skolimowski could have set the plot in any European or even world country. This is how EO will end in the company of football fans, it will almost end in sausages, in a schinteraj, and Skolimowski brilliantly achieves the impression that the viewer is really looking at the world through the eyes of that unfortunate donkey. Although everything we will see in “EO” is definitely not beautiful, it is a visually striking film, poetic, highly aestheticized in which attention was paid to every smallest detail, an impressive philosophical drama that was eventually nominated for an Oscar in the category of best foreign film.