Review of Carnage, a new film directed by Simon Amstell
What would the world be like if we no longer abused animals? Simon Amstell explores this question in his 2017 film, Carnage.
If you are at all familiar with veganism, you know that vegans aren’t exactly renowned for their sense of humour. Amstell has broken that taboo and introduced some much needed levity in the form of this mockumentary film. In an interview discussing Carnage, Amstell said that too often, veganism comes across as preachy, alienating the audience before they are able to let their guards down enough to absorb the information.
So when Amstell set out to make a film, he choose to shake things up a bit and use dark comedy as the way to share his message. This automatically set his film apart from pretty much every other vegan movie ever made.
I actually think most people will enjoy Carnage. This is true regardless of whether they are vegan, thinking of becoming vegan, or completely opposed to the idea. It takes an entirely innovative approach, disarming viewers with humour in order to introduce deeper issues.
The Setting of Carnage
Carnage imagines a post-carnist world. In this world, animals are no longer the property of humans. Human beings now live in perfect harmony with their non-human bretheren. But there’s a dark side catch: the previous generation is still tortured by the memories of their meat-eating past. Older people gather in the basements of churches to speak in hushed tones about their crimes and are encouraged to face their carnist demons.
In the movie, Amstell reveals the long and winding road that led to a vegan world. The film opens with an exploration of the post-war era and the founding of the vegan society. In the process, it gently pokes fun at the counterculture beginnings of the movement. But it also highlights humanities addiction to animal products and the natural humour found in the concept of adult humans taking the milk from other mammals. The movie then traces veganism through an imagined future in which humanity grows less and less attached to eating animals. This is not always a simple path, and the road to a less violent future is not always smooth, even in this fictional account.
I really enjoyed the film. It was witty and charming, while being just serious enough to get the message across without sounding preachy. Not all my fellow vegans seem to have enjoyed it, though. Ben Frost from Ecorazzi has already written a review that more or less accuses Amstell of making things worse for the animals by having a sense of humour.
Thanks to Wendy from the Nomadic Vegan, whose fabulous review of the film can be found here.
For those of you in the UK, here’s the link to Carnage on the BBC iPlayer.
This link won’t last long, I’m sure, but the film is also available on YouTube here.