(Unser täglich Brot)
© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Worker suited up for the spraying of toxic
insecticide in
Our Daily Bread
Directed by Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Austria

Photo Credit: First Run / Icarus Films

         If you have never read Upton Sinclair's THE JUNGLE or even Eric Schlosser's
FAST FOOD NATION and you want to know how and where what's on your plate
 got there, then
OUR DAILY BREAD is the film to see.

         Director Nikolaus Geyrhalter has taken a somewhat unique tack in this
 documentary. Eschewing the use of a narrator or any other commentary, he has
 instead focused mostly on the images as he presents shots of the ways in which
 contemporary Europe produces its food supply. The mechanization, the brutality
 of the abattoir, the impressive scope of the harvest -- all that and more is on

         In a series of seemingly unrelated yet powerful sequences, Geyrhalter
 show how almost everything that lands on a table gets there. Cows are continuously
 milked by machine. Chickens packed together like canned sardines lay eggs.
 Two men descend deep into the earth to mine salt. Fish are filleted at the factory
 and cows are carved up to make steak. Farm workers drive machinery or spray
 chemicals to protect or kill plants depending on where and when.

         Geyrhalter states in the production notes that he hopes a viewer will
 take from the film whatever he or she puts into it. That's either brilliant or
 very disingenuous. By including footage of working on their lunch breaks,
 indulging in sandwiches perhaps made from some of the ingredients we've
 seen in previous sections, the director literally gives the audience food for
 thought. One begins to wonder what, if any, feelings these workers have regarding
 the mechanization and what some will find cruel means that animals are
 slaughtered. We aren't told what to thought, merely left to ponder the matter
 for ourselves over our own tables.

                         Rating:                B