Thanksgiving at our house started with Meals on Wheels deliveries and eased into a full day movie marathon. We continued with our Hitchcock addiction and added a few other movies for a dose of sanity.
One of the non-Hitchcock movies we watched was Chicken Run from Dreamworks. It is an animated movie set on a chicken farm in England in the 1950′s. The story surrounds a wiley group of chickens that live in constant terror awaiting their turn on the chopping block. Their situation turns significantly more dire when the small time farm introduces huge scale machinery (think factory farm production) to turn all of the chickens into pot pies in one fell swoop.
The renegade of the group, Ginger is a dreamer who is determined to get them all out of that coop or die trying.
So as we are watching this “G” rated cartoon I realize that I am sobbing. Big, monsoon like, heart breaking tears. The hens are so humanized in this movie (they wear cute hats and jewelry and have beautiful British accents, and express fear , sadness and joy like real hens do) that it reaches in to the darkest part of your mind where you know that these things happen to animals with feelings. We choose to forget about this or not think about it because it is too horrible to accept. This movie profoundly taps into the premise ” if slaughter houses had glass walls, then everyone would be vegetarian.”
I found this reaction to the movie very interesting because when we watched “Glass Walls” with Paul McCartney, which epitomizes the above premise, Sandy and I both had very different reactions. Sandy was paralyzed by the images and almost felt as though they were not real. As I watched the images on the screen they were so horrifying to me that they were seared into my brain.
So, along comes the animated Chicken Run and under the guise of a family movie, it successfully sneaks (or shouts if you are paying attention) this message without the terrifying images in documentaries like Glass Walls. It is expertly created and I love this soft sell of a painful message, animals have feelings, even chickens. It easily spoke to Sandy and me and I imagine to many others as well.
Roger Ebert gives this flick “two thumbs up” and I totally agree. If you haven’t seen the movie already, here is a trailer to Chicken Run.
Have a compassionate day.