Our Daily Bread

Horror, surrealism & reality from Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s (with editing from Wolfgang Widerhofer) superb (I would say even classic) 2005 documentary on modern large-scale food production (it will thus be an even more disturbing & abstract affair nowadays no doubt). Surrealism & reality sharing the same lens may sound like an oxymoron, but the facts of how industrial supermarket food is generated & prepared is a bizarre, deeply unnatural & shocking phenomenon that has become more & more secretive of sharing it’s frightening truths (it’s alleged that it’s easier to get into/report on prisons these days than it is on many aspects of the major food industry). The director expands this surrealist excellence & honesty by taking only fixed film shots, i.e. a static camera with no frame movement, capturing only what is occurring in the specific & motionless field of vision. There is also no commentary or music (but plenty of sound, especially the alien industrial equipment & machinery)). This provides a supreme honesty & neutrality. It also renders a rich, almost art-house weirdness that, at least in some ways, shares some strains of similitude to the incredible Hubert Sauper’s We Come As Friends & Darwin’s Nightmare documentaries. Our Daily Bread generally concentrates on meat (bovine, poultry, porcine & a salmon farm), dairy & vegetables. He seems obsessed with documenting every phase, from birth (& even insemination), seed germination, maintenance & finally harvest /butchery/murder & preparation/sanitization into commodity form. “Machines”, automation, the mass mechanization & construction of nightmarish facilities custom built & designed to stream-line some of the most unimaginable shit possible on gigantic scales feature prominently. Most people have never seen the insides of these plants. It’s hard to know how to even begin to define how disturbing some of this stuff is, more than anything the animal “production” & slaughter. the truly diabolic combination of honed technology, intense organization, speed calculated efficiency & massacre-optimized artificial environments & machinery, along with human input lead to episodes of the most fell & sick pogrom proficiency that leave me largely speechless. It’s so wrong, so twisted, so unthinkable & denotes to the wickedest depths of man’s lowest chamber. Auschwitz is all over it. & to think that this monstrosity churns this out day after day? Holocaust after holocaust! Circadian & unremitting, to feed this perverse voracity for taste sensation. The “machines” that make it possible are like something out of a hell scenario, & in enclosed spaces, it’s just unreal. Equally perverse are the attendants. What kind of a fucking freak do you need to be to do this? with such indifference? Insane! What’s equally as abominable is the clinical, white lab coat, tech-savvy, hospital-like sections. One of the worst passages is with the “processing” of the young chicks. I just don’t have the adequate language. I can’t believe I live in a world where this shit is active.

Excellent footage on the manual labour of agrarian (& no doubt migrant) workers & vegetable pickers is also engaged. Gang-masters, monotony, exposure to chemicals & back-botching toil in the soil, almost definitely for a pathetic pittance that is only worth the sweat & bent-bones once it’s sent back to a country that’s currency is so depleted that it goes the distance in conversion.

An incredible’ incredible piece of film & educational/informative media. It clamped a throng of awards after its release, all greatly deserved. Watch it & understand, & stay the fuck out of the supermarkets & away from mass produced commercial food.

Director- Nikolaus Geyrhalter

ICA Films