It’s an original take on death in the Oostvaardersplassen. Students Christoph Janzing and Stefan Zand have produced a discomforting and thought-provoking film. But no real solutions.
In the same vein the filmgoers see how a Konik horse in the Oostvaardersplassen reserve is shot dead by forester Jan Griekspoor. The horse would have died of starvation otherwise. And on the Veluwe, gamekeeper Cees de Jong shoots a wild swan in the lungs. 'Better this than end up under a car', he whispers. But the squealing goes right through you, despite De Jong's assurance that the animal did not notice a thing. Every time the images are disturbing but every time the protagonists are given space for their points of view. 'Why are there no animal rights campaigners in the film, or a minister?' asks a critical filmgoer afterwards. Ecologist Frans Vera can relate to the story. 'But why does death have to be emphasized all the time? In the Oostvaardersplassen at least a horse can always be a horse, but the film always zooms in on the last weeks of suffering.'
Some outspoken opinions are voiced too: 'As a person you cannot see whether an animal is suffering or not'; 'Why should an animal be put out of its misery while euthanasia for people who are suffering is controversial?' Or: 'In nature, animals kill each other in the most vicious ways; why shouldn't we be allowed to do so?' Researcher Bert Lambooi especially felt the lack of a clear solution. 'I think that as human beings we have a moral obligation to prevent suffering, but how? With this film I don't get an answer.' And perhaps that was exactly the intention. Death remains a dilemma. ® SvG
From January, the film will be out on DVD. Anyone interested in using the film in lectures and/or discussion can email email@example.com