Stranger in a strange land

In “EO” we follow our titular hero, a donkey, through a series of Candide like adventures. “EO” is the sound the donkey makes; certainly nobody call the animal EO. 

Our hero is a lovable donkey who must navigate their life path with a sense of animal honor despite being on the low rung of lovable animals.

Perhaps that is why we identify with EO more than if he were a cute dog or wiseacre raccoon. As helmed by Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski the story has a dark veneer. While some scenes are adorable other sequences turn horrific with split-second timing.

In some ways “EO” is a modern remake of “Au Hasard Balthazar,” an acclaimed 1966 Robert Bresson film where a donkey is a Christ figure. In fact, “Balthazar” came in number 25 on the recent bullshit Sight and Sound top 100 movies of all time list. A current film “The Banshees of Inishirin” has a donkey that plays a key role in the plot.

Relatives of donkeys the mule also have a part in films history. Just note “Francis the Talking Mule” or “Two Mules for Sister Sara.”

Skolimowski used six animals to portray EO; Marietta, Tako, Hola, Rocco, Mela, and Ettore. An equestrian I know claims to be able to tell them apart. They all look the same to me. Of course, each time I watch one of my favorite films “The Wild Strawberries” other than the old man all the actors look the exact same to me.

EO gets captured and put to work in a circus or farm only to escape through the kindness of strangers who relate to the animal’s unwarranted servitude. The narrative presents a kaleidoscope of modern day Europe. There are at least five languages heard throughout the film.

 Skolimowski’s deft direction literally lets the audience become a stranger in a strange land.

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