Food (1992)

Genres - Avant-garde / Experimental  |   Sub-Genres - Satire  |   Run Time - 17 min.  |   Countries - United States   |  
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Review by Craig Butler

Written in 1970 but not filmed until 1991, the surrealistic Food is divided into three parts: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Each segment combines live action and animation, but not in the traditional Hollywood style; rather, real actors are shot in a process approximating stop-motion animation, with occasional use of animation models taking the place of the actors or portions of their bodies. Each segment also involves different strata of society: the lower classes in Breakfast, middle in Lunch, upper in Dinner. Cruelly, at times viciously, ironic, Food creates worlds in which the simple act of eating takes on disturbing tones. In Breakfast, those wishing to get something to eat do so by treating another human being as a semi-human automat; their hunger satisfied, they in turn become automats for the next customers. The images used are startling, fascinating and amusing, yet they also provoke pity and sadness. The characters in Lunch -- father and son, perhaps? -- up the emotional ante a bit. Their actions define them as competitors -- one of them eternally getting the better of the other, although both are viewed as inconsequential by the waiters of the establishment -- and the repetition of their activities creates a palpable tension, even though the outcome is scarcely in doubt. Most grotesque is Dinner, although director Jan Svankmajer's lack of sympathy for the characters makes the cannibalistic conclusion less shocking (and more acceptable). While the ultimate meaning of each segment (and of the film as a whole) is left to the individual viewer, the richness of the images and the utterly unique manner of animation make an impression that is hard to forget.