Electrocuting an Elephant
“Oh, Nature, where is your providence, where is your benevolence, having armed the beasts, species against species, and Man against all”. Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, after whose ANIMALI CRIMINALI the programme is named, start their film with a quote by Denis Diderot. And indeed, each of the ten vignettes to follow shows two animals fighting, from beetles to giant snakes. Nature is cruel but so is cinema, and man, the apex of creation, is last to enter the arena and proceeds to feed – and kill. The programme spans from Edison’s recordings of the electrocution of Topsy, the circus elephant, to Peter Kubelka’s UNSERE AFRIKAREISE and Romuald Karmakar’s film about cockfighting, GALLODROME. Has cinema, in the course of a hundred years, changed the relationship between man and beast? Absolutely. But the question should be: Has cinema, in the course of a hundred years, changed man’s understanding of animals?