IO is a poignant protest against the inhumane treatment of animals and the killing and destruction of nature. Second – a sad fairy tale in which perpetrators, victims and witnesses look at each other.
In the new film by Jerzy Skolimowski, the most beautiful were the poetic images of Michau Demick, thanks to which this disturbing story of innocence turns into a visual poem. Although Frenchwoman Isabelle Huppert plays here, she’s not the star of “IO”, but rather the title ass – a silent witness to the cruelty of the world.
Some of the clips are like sections of a poem. In passing, they reflect a mysterious beauty that serves almost nothing but a powerful surprise that something so wonderful could ever be conceivable in a world that brings so much selfless suffering. Hell should be more disgusting, not so enticing to aesthetic refinement, but the land that freaks me out in “IO” is also a paradise available for a moment only to the few who want to retain, perceive, or only feel this beauty. This is subtly expressed by the poster advertising the film. Against the background of a majestic stone embankment on an arched bridge – the shape of an almost imperceptible donkey. The main character in the painting is an animal, but it is dominated by a stronger than him, foreshadowing misfortune, the cruelty of nature with which man treats.
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Donkey. Sensitive watcher
“IO” is a tribute to the penultimate work of the great French master Robert Bresson from 1966. In the material prepared for the press (the director canceled his visit to Cannes at the last minute, allegedly due to poor health), Skolimowski admits that “Bless you, Balthasar!” It was the only movie that made him tear up. He never cried again at any other show. It worked to make the animal the most powerful source of emotion on screen. This is also the case with the pole.
Bryson’s film argued with the character of sacrifice brings redemption. And the title of Belshazzar’s donkey, a witness to cruelty, the embodiment of purity and virtue. The industrious animal, supposedly the unofficial savior of man, took all his pests upon himself, but to no avail. The drama it was like was a kind of holiness study. He spoke of meanness and suffering, and gave an insight into the innate cruelty of man and his destructive instincts, leaving almost no hope behind. At the same time, it looked almost tacky with his black and white photos hinting at the tradition of silent cinema.
In Skolimowski’s case, the meaning is similar, the protagonist is also a gray donkey with a white spot around his eyes. Loved and abandoned by a girl in a red dress. There are not many Christian references here. The exception is a scene created specifically for Isabelle Hubert – an episode that takes place in a palace resembling a cathedral. The donkey is not assigned a “rescue” mission. He must be a sensitive observer of the misfortunes that befall him in the first place. Within his scope, there are also small and major crimes against animals and other people. The landscape changes, the culprits are always the same – the bad guys.
The image of poverty in “IO” seems to be taken from a distant era in the director’s youth. The tavern, the stud, and the towns IO roams through are replicas of well-known places from old communist images. Even the types cutting the white and red ribbon or football fans playing a ritual of hate dance sound familiar from somewhere: dull, rough, aggressive, as if time had stopped and stood still. However, the form of this work is modern. After I bathed in red, dreams and nightmares returned like a fascination, heralding the bloody end inevitably looming. Cut-out narration, strange camera angles, dynamic editing – they are hypnotized, continuing the visual experience of the apocalyptic movie “11 Minutes”.
Skolimovsky bombards the senses
There are more links with Skolimowski’s previous achievements. A long, silent journey through forests, wilderness, and deserted spaces in order to free oneself from fate may be associated with Gilgitta, a prisoner fleeing from “primary murder.” Desperate Rebellion – With Andrzej Leszczyc wandering from ‘Rysopis’ or ‘Walkower’, the struggle for victory also turns into a bleak and existential spectacle awaiting the worst possible solutions. This sense of defeat embedded in various movie tags and codes, like the unforgettable dead pixel from “11 Minutes,” makes a strong comeback in IO.
It makes no sense to make an accusation about him, because this was and remains Skolimovsky’s worldview, which he viewed without illusions, with increasing pessimism about the actions of his neighbors. The problem is something else. In order to make the drama more engaging and easily recognizable, as well as the stunning visuals, the director bombards the senses with a symphony of sounds by Pawe Mykietyn, among others with motifs from Loncavale operas, Mozart’s Requiem, and Jorecki’s works. Urgent and pathetic, that doesn’t help build empathy. There are simply too many incentives.
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