The Pig Fucking Movie

The words "pig fucking" don't usually suggest anything good, even among people who aren't trying to keep kosher.

Of course, The Pig Fucking Movie has a more dignified original title: Vase de noces, or "The Wedding Trough". It's something of a misleading title, though, since there's certainly no wedding involved. I suppose the title is supposed to suggest that our social and religious rituals, such as marriage, are merely facades we've created to disguise our basic animal natures... after all, that's what the movie itself seems to be saying. But there is only one human character in the movie, no dialog, and nothing to indicate that any social conventions actually apply in the world of the film (to the point where some reviewers have suggested it's supposed to be taking place in some post-apocalyptic wasteland à la Eraserhead). Shoehorning the word "wedding" into the title merely implies that the film-makers had a bourgeois horror that the movie's half-human piglets might be born out of wedlock — which I think is a slightly different impression than the director intended.

The Pig Fucking Movie turns out to be a much more appropriate title, even though there really isn't that much pigfucking going on in it. The movie insists we're all essentially beasts, and the idea of "fucking" certainly connects us back to our animal origins. Pigs fuck, humans fuck, and (as the movie goes out of its way to show us at every opportunity) lots of other animals fuck as well. Usually, though, we all fuck others of our own kind. In this case, as you'll already have figured out, "pig fucking" doesn't mean pigs fucking other pigs. No. This is a movie about a human who fucks a pig, with consequences as brutal and filthy as the English title suggests.

When we first meet our protagonist (that's Greek for "pigfucker"), he is attempting to stuff doll's heads onto pigeons. Why, you ask? (Normally I'd suggest you go talk to the writer — but this time our hero [Dominique Garny] is the writer, so he has nobody to blame but himself for the indignities he has to put up with.) Evidently this is supposed to suggest the human persona, which the movie suggests is a false face put on to disguise the fact we're all just animals underneath.

You see? It's Art, says the movie.

Bullshit, I say, and on we go.

Two things about the movie undercut the effectiveness of the doll's-head metaphor. First — have you ever tried putting a doll's head on a live pigeon? If you have, I don't really want to know about it... that was a rhetorical question. Anyway, it's not easy. The bird really doesn't want to wear a piece of plastic or porcelain that probably weighs more than the bird itself does. This scene probably sounded great on paper, but in practice it comes off looking like some rube staging a video for one of those god-awful "World's Funniest" TV shows.

The other thing that works against the scene is the music. Director Thierry Zéno has chosen to accompany this scene with music by the 12th/13th century Parisian composer Pérotin. Now, Pérotin is one of the earliest composers in European history whose name we know — and the reason we know it is because he was so particularly brilliant. He helped to invent Western polyphonic music. His intellectual achievement paved the way for hundreds of years of musical development. Yet Pérotin's music is so radically different from what we recognize today that it's not at all easy to understand. If I were to go out of my way to choose the least appropriate music for a movie that suggests that we're all just mud-rolling pigfuckers at heart... Pérotin's Viderunt omnes would be pretty damned high on the list.

After doing his futile little bit with the pigeons, our hero goes about his normal tasks on his farm. He hitches his plow to the pig — and no, that's not a euphemism; he hasn't started doing that yet — and then he seeds his grounds — and that's not a euphemism either. By the way: he does this all to the music of the 16th/17th century composer Claudio Monteverdi, another baffling musical choice.

Soon, he cuts the head off a chicken in loving close-up. He rings the farmhouse bell, though there doesn't seem to be anyone around to notice. He says grace silently and eats. For relaxation, he puts on a blindfold and chases the pig around her pen.

The pig rolls around in the mud. The farmer takes off his clothes and rolls around with her. The pig shits. The farmer shits. Occasionally he takes off his clothes again and fondles the pig, who is at best indifferent and at worst a little annoyed at the attention.

The farmer also has a habit of going around and collecting bits of detritus to put in an endless row of glass jars... ah, the futility of human endeavor! sneers the movie. Then, about a quarter of the way into the film, the farmer takes off his clothes again, goes into the pen with the pig and... well... what else can I say? He porks her.

I know what some of you are thinking now: does he, or does he not, actually fuck the pig?

There has been considerable argument about this (among the three or four people who have actually seen the movie), since the scene isn't shot in explicit detail. I'm pleased to say I have the definitive answer for this question, and it is this:

Who the hell cares, you sick motherfucker?

You're twenty minutes into The Pig Fucking Movie, for fuck's sake: you knew what to expect. Does it matter if he's really doing it or not? Hell, I'm a guy: I know that under the right conditions, a guy will stick his penis anywhere he thinks it'll fit: in women, men, children, animals, vacuum cleaners, exhaust pipes, light sockets, meat grinders... you name it, a man will probably try to screw it. How can I pretend to be shocked by a little pigfucking? Considering what the film has in store for us, pigfucking is among the least transgressive things on display. Though I admit it's a bit insensitive to play "hide the sausage" with the very animal from which sausage is made.

After the big pigfucking scene, our human protagonist goes into some sort of existential funk. The pig has to take over some of his duties, such as ringing the farmhouse bell... and yes, I know; if you're thinking what the fuck? at this point, you're not alone... but I'll get to this kind of distinctly un-piglike behavior later. Eventually, things go back to normal: the pig eats; the farmer shits... until one day the pig is nowhere to be found. The farmer searches frantically for his belovèd, and finds her sequestered in a pile of mulch. She's about to give birth to their half-human piglets.

That's impossible, I say.

But this is Art, says the movie.

The fuck it is, I say, and on we go.

The sow gives birth to a litter of adorable little piglets, and the farmer interrupts his schedule of shitting and jar-collecting long enough to try to raise them as his very own. Unfortunately, as might be expected, the piglets don't take well to civilization. When the farmer tries to get them to eat politely at the dinner table, they don't: they act like little pigs, crowding around each others' portions and spilling their bowls all over the table. They are being true to their bestial nature, says the film, but the farmer is not being true to his.

So the farmer takes the piglets out and kills them.

It's this, and not the pigfucking, that I find nauseating and unforgiveable. Now, I know animals are slaughtered for my consumption. On rare occasions, I have even killed my own food. But I do not enjoy seeing anything suffer and die purely for my entertainment. This film is not Franju's Blood of the Beasts, where actual animal slaughter is presented to show us exactly where our food comes from... and to what lengths humans can go to inure themselves to the suffering of their fellow-creatures. No. This is a shabby little exercise in artistic wankery, and the piglets were killed just to let the director make his ridiculous point. I don't care if the crew dined on roast suckling pig for a month afterwards, it's still reprehensible. To make matters worse, it appears they killed the piglets by hanging them. Hanging is intended as a method of execution for animals shaped like us (in other words, us). The idea of hanging a young pig seems particularly ill-suited and barbaric (which is probably why this method was chosen, come to think of it; again, Thierry, what a great way to make your artistic point... pigfucker).

Ah, but the worst is yet to come. You see, when the pig finds out that her piglets have been hanged, she runs around shrieking in despair. Then she runs off into the nearby swamp and drowns herself.

And that's the point at which a banjo-playing frog and his degenerate backwoods family come out of the swamp to extract their brutal revenge. "SQUEAL, human!" (No, no. Sorry; The Muppet Deliverance is just a hallucination I had, to distract me from the agony into which this movie was forcing me.)

Here's the trouble: if the point you're making with your movie is that humans are essentially brutish animals pretending to be something they're not, then the one thing you can't do is turn around and anthropomorphize the pig. It's stupid. It cancels out everything you've just tried to say about the human condition. Of course, by this point not only have the film-makers invalidated their own thesis, they've also killed the poor pig — who, until then, seemed likely to be the only member of the production to get through the whole experience with some shred of dignity left.

This leaves our heartbroken farmer to drag the pig's carcass out of the swamp. He buries the pig; and, in a fit of remorse, he tries to bury himself as well. In doing this, he makes an important discovery, the sort of epiphany we count on powerful art films such as this to reveal to us: burying yourself alive kind-of sucks. So he digs himself back out again.

From that pont on, he does more or less what we might expect him to do from his behavior so far: he eats, and he shits. Only this time, he gets the order of things a little mixed up. He chokes down a full meal of his own freshly-gathered dung, and washes it all down with a nice cup of boiling-hot poop tea. Then, understandably, he's seized with the urge to vomit it all back up again... while the camera records everything in detail.

After this, what's left for the farmer to do? He climbs up a tall ladder — one that seems to be supported by nothing at all, which I suppose (groan) must mean something — and hangs himself. His dying thoughts are left unstated, but those of us who are still watching at this point can guess what they must be: "Aw, shit! I forgot to fuck the pig after it was de—"

The rest is silence.

On consideration, I may have been a little harsh with The Pig Fucking Movie. Now that I've actually written down my thoughts, I see there's an aspect to the film as a whole that I hadn't considered before. Stripped down to its basic details, like a man about to fuck a pi— wait; start again. Boiled down to its essentials, like a teapot full of steaming ordure, this f— no, that's not it either.

(Sigh.) Look: what we have here is a movie about some pigfucker who swallows his own shit. Do you see what that implies? The Pig Fucking Movie is a film whose every frame is a metaphor... for itself.

The chances of The Pig Fucking Movie being released on standard commercial video are pretty slim. But this is not necessarily because its subject matter is too controversial. Quite the opposite, really: its épater la bourgeousie shock value has declined sharply over the years, especially since South Park brought both pigfucking and coprophilia into the cultural mainstream as early as its first season.

I don't know how the film's audience in 1974 (assuming it had an audience in 1974) related to the movie's apparent message, but I think these days we're much less likely to agree with its attitude to the relationship between humans and animals. The thought that we are not far removed from other mammals, biologically speaking — or that some of our behavior, and even our cultural institutions, may be remnants of our evolutionary past — is (I hope) less likely to send us into some sort of neurotic self-destructive tailspin, like our pigfucking farmer. We're more likely to join in with the American philosopher Mojo Nixon, as he sings gleefully:

Dad's goin' steady with a pig in the barn
Grandma's gettin' down with an ear of corn
     Gonna tie my pecker to my leg, to my leg
     Gonna tie my pecker to my leg.
Or, in other words:

Big fucking pigfucking deal.

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