Mondo cane (1962)

5.0 out of 5

The product of the Mondo cane team of Paolo Cavara, Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi this documentary is a beautiful, mesmerising and thought provoking affair that features incredible cinematography by Antonio Climati and set to a pretty much perfect and contextually appropriate score from Riz Ortolani

While the shockumentary may have its roots much earlier in the century with cinema hucksters such as Harry Schenck, director of Beyond Bengal, combining staged and real footage to make their point about different cultures Mondo cane is as much about contrast and juxtaposition as it is about the exposé of the earlier sensationalist ethnographic film.

The shock of Mondo cane, and it's possibly greatest strength, is in its proximity of moments of light and darkness as humour quickly turns to brutality and back again as a commentary delivers an ever so trite take on culture in a sometimes earnest, often humorous, but never dull monologue.

While this is a documentary that animal lovers may wish to avoid much of Mondo cane is about showing a world as is and not it should or could be this highly influential feature is one that should be recommended, albeit with caveats. Watching a turtle, disoriented by radiation, dragging itself further and further from the ocean and to her demise is especially heartbreaking and intentionally so and bull beheadings and the preparation of a pig feast are just simply brutal as is the scenes of the force feeding of geese to make foie gras. Not merely a series of vignettes Mondo cane is far more than the sum of it's parts.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics