Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

Le Cochon 1970

The Pig

Directed by Jean Eustache

France In French with English subtitles
50 minutes 16mm / B&W



"The Eustache film I love the most is Le Cochon (1970), a beautiful, sensitive, big-hearted short documentary that shows not a trace of the despair and defeat radiating from Eustache’s fictional films. Le Cochon, which Eustache co-directed with Jean-Michel Barjol, records the slaughter and dismemberment of a pig and the process of transforming the dead animal into various food products. It’s Eustache’s most beautiful film because it’s his most curious and graceful. He and Barjol filmed the movie over the course of a single day, shooting footage separately and then editing together; their purpose was primarily to observe, to record. There’s a great affinity between this film and the documentaries of Frederick Wiseman – a similar directness (there are no voice-overs, explanatory titles, or interviews) and a similar luxurious freedom from preconception or interpretation. Wiseman, passionately and with an almost missionary desire, shows us things neglected by almost all other filmmakers – the banal, allegedly undramatic daily experiences of cops, teachers, welfare workers, hospital workers, judges, soldiers, and so on (experiences that of course prove to be almost ridiculously dramatic and full of interest). The same attitude radiates from every moment of Le Cochon – the delight of making a faithful record of an experience, both the experience of the filmmakers over the course of one day and the daily experience of the farmers. The movie begins with the slaughter of the pig, a wrenching thing to witness – but instead of passing judgement on the farmers, it opens out into something much more generous and understanding, a portrait of a way of life, an appreciation of physical work, of daily toil, of the process of transforming one thing into another." — Jared Rapfogel, Senses of Cinema