The psychological compulsion to anthropomorphise animals, projecting human emotions and characteristics onto wild beasts and our household pets, dates back to early civilisation, but it has become especially ubiquitous in popular culture over the past century. From Piglet to Porky Pig to Babe to Peppa Pig, there is in particular an abundance of pig characters in books, films and television who embody various aspects of human nature. This is something that is hard not to think about when watching Gunda, by Russian experimental documentary filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky. A passion project of Kossakovsky inspired by a childhood companion, Gunda follows its subjects – a sow on a farm in Norway and her piglets – without all the elements of film style that are usually used to facilitate an arguably artificial connection between the human audience members and the animals on scene.
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