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(aka "Der Tierfilm" )


directed by Victor Schonfeld and Myriam Alaux
UK 1981


Controversial, confrontational... twenty-six years after it first shocked British cinema and television audiences, The Animals Film is back

This world renowned, explosive feature-documentary will be presented for the first time uncut and digitally re-mastered by the BFI, and available to buy on DVD on 29 September.

The new release offers both the original - rarely seen - 1982 version of the film, plus the directors 2008 cut, featuring a new and energising conclusion. Controversial, confrontational and riveting, this unique work received worldwide critical acclaim for its filmic power, questioning how and why modern societies exploit animals for food, fur, sport, entertainment and science. It showed scenes that had never been filmed before and footage uncovered through dogged research. In the UK it was broadcast on Channel 4 during its first week on air in November 1982 and caused uproar and thereafter was shown in cinemas and on TV around the world.

The film is noteworthy for its groundbreaking ironic style, integrating diverse 'found footage' including cartoons, newsreels, advertisements, and government propaganda films, mingled with vox pops and rock music. The BFI DVD includes the volatile material which was censored on Channel 4 filmed sequences of animal
liberation raids and clandestine interviews with the campaigners involved.

Narrated by Julie Christie, with music by David Byrne/Talking Heads and a compelling score composed and performed by Robert Wyatt, the film inspired a generation of vegetarians, and remains an acutely resonant work for today.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

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DVD Review:  BFI - Region 2 - PAL

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Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 2:10:20

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.58 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Directors 2008 cut of the film
• New filmed interview with Victor Schonfeld (29:29)
• Audio statement by Julie Christie
• Original trailer
• Illustrated 32-page booklet with contributions from the director, essays, reviews and a biography

DVD Release Date: September 29th, 2008
Keep Case

Chapters 16



Before I explain why I believe that Victor Schonfeld and Myriam Alaux's "The Animal Film" is one of the most remarkable documentaries that I have ever come across, I should first explain that like the film itself, I am rather biased. I've been an ethical vegetarian for nearly a decade now and I often teach about animal welfare issues in my ethics courses. That said, I tend to shy away from documentaries that try to summarize a moral dilemma as complex as our treatment of non-human animals into a series of pithy soundbites. However, this film is so much more than that. Instead it provides a nearly comprehensive examination at the daily horrors that go on beyond the supermarket and the pharmacy, showing footage that while oftentimes shocking, also clearly lifts off the veil to show us where our meat and pharmaceuticals come from. As such, I think that it should be required viewing for anyone interested animal welfare.

The release from the BFI is another outstanding package. The visuals here simply looks great. Since the film utilizes a number of different video sources including cinema from the early part of the 20th century and the occasional piece of found footage, one might expect the image to be poor. While there is a bit of an even quality in the footage, this was inherent in the original documentary, and is preserved in this addition as well. However, the material that was made for the film likely looks as sharp as it did in 1981 and I would imagine that this presentation rivals how the film originally looked in the theaters.

The audio here is similarly strong. The soundtrack for both cuts of the film is Dolby Digital 2.0 and the sound is more than competent. There are no signs of manipulation, nor are there any hisses, pops, or cracks. The subtitles are always clear and unobtrusive.

The extras included in this release are quite welcome. First up, the BFI includes Schonfeld's 2008 reedit of the film seamlessly branched with the main feature. The only difference is the removal of the final scenes dealing with animal liberation (so as not to give the impression that he endorsed violence) and a corresponding change in the credits. Also included is a nearly 30 minute long interview with Schonfeld where he details the making of the film, its reception, and his impressions of it almost three decades later. There's also a much shorter audio statement from Julie Christie in which she discusses her fears going into production and how she feels about the final cut. Finally, besides a reissue trailer, the BFI also includes one of their typically informative booklets with both reprinted and newly commissioned essays.

As I previously stated, I consider this to be one of the most important documentaries that I have ever seen. Even if it were barebones with an atrocious transfer, I would still recommend it on the merits of the film alone. Thankfully, that is not the case and we have one of the very best packages of 2008. I give this my highest recommendation and hope that you will check it out.

 - Brian Montgomery


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