Have you ever wondered what kind of a life the chicken you’re eating has led before it became your meal? This short film beautifully tells us the tale of a cockerel in an autobiographic fashion.

A Cockerel’s Tale” is screening at Osaka Asian Film Festival

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We are invited to follow around a typical cockerel in his journey through life, from a little chick to becoming a breeder cockerel in a nearby farm and finally being consumed by people as meat sold in a butcher’s shop. The narrator of the film seems uncertain initially but we later find out it’s the soul of the dead cockerel himself. The cycle of an ordinary day in the ranch till his very last day would have been appropriately summed up by the words, “eat, sleep and ejaculate”. However, one day the cockerel finds a chance to leave his cage and venture out into the world beyond the perimeter of his farm.

As he steps outside the cage he used to be locked up in, the camera watches him from a distance while the voice over continues to narrate his inner thoughts. “He flaps his wings showing off to the other roosters smugly.” This small action is symbolic of the start of his quest for an identity and the path to his self-discovery. It is marked with a sense of liberation and independence that motivates the cockerel to set out on his own adventure. What happens next is outside his knowledge or control and therefore he must submit himself to his fate. We never see the cockerel protesting or fighting against the chains of restraint put on him.

Personifying the protagonist as a human donning a feathery outfit but with the face still intact like that of a human seems to be a deliberate decision made by the director. It not only enables us to empathize with the cockerel, but also lets us realize how cruelty against animals often gets ignored or not taken into any consideration. As an animal with a human face, it is hard for us to ignore his predicament. When the narrative comes from a first person’s point of view, it will no doubt have a greater effect on the audience than the response any second person’s point of view would have elicited from the same group of audience because of the personal anecdotal aspect to it.

The film has graphic depictions of how a breeder cockerel is manually made to ejaculate and then the semen he produces is used to inseminate other breeder hens. A particular sequence has short flashes of clear images that keep shuffling from one to the other. To discuss the effect of such grossly blunt and crass presentation, one must observe that it does not undermine the violence or vulgarity of the situation the cockerel is put in but makes us more aware of the process that a breeder cockerel is made to go through in a humorous way, despite it being an almost insanely exploited existence. Perhaps, this film would raise questions in our minds regarding animal rights and alternative modes of growing chicken for consumption. As the cockerel’s soul wanders down the lane at night, we are left a little morose and pensive.

I’m a postgraduate student from India, currently doing my Masters in English Literature. I want to continue my further studies in the field of academic research, but I really want to be an author. I love reading novels and I often write short stories or memoirs in my free time unless I'm binge-watching Korean dramas. I get distracted very easily. I pretty much grew up watching films since my childhood. My dad would often bring home DVDs of old classics and the whole family would get together in the evenings to watch them. I have seen a lot of Indian films and as a Bengali, though it might sound a bit biased, I'm actually very fond of Satyajit Ray's films, particularly "Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne" and "Charulata". Other than that, I love Kurosawa (especially, "Seven Samurai"), Wang Kar Wai and Miyazaki among Asian filmmakers. I'm always open to trying out new films and genres, except horror. I enjoy writing about films, something I discovered quite recently, but I'm nowhere near being a film critic. So I'm just here to explore and learn.