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  • Writer's pictureKatie Jefferis

A Donkey’s Desires

Updated: Jan 30

“Watch what he does, observe his motives, examine what gives him shelter. What donkey can conceal his character?” — Confucius

Ok, Confucius didn’t say this about a donkey, he said it about man. “What man can conceal his character?” But it applies here. A donkey can’t perform or imitate. A donkey on film is just a donkey in the world. Not acting, but reacting to circumstances, stimuli, human behavior, his own feelings, stress. What we see on film is a document of EO’s desires: independence, curiosity, acceptance, contact, status, order, honor, vengeance, food, shelter, love, tranquility.

This Confucianism was imparted to me by a writing teacher as a guide for structuring a screenplay or thinking about a protagonist’s arc. So in this sense Jerzy Skolimowski really has distilled the hero’s journey into a pure form — a being seeking to alleviate pain with limited resources. And this might be one of the primary reasons we watch films: to feel, for a brief moment, we are not alone in being overwhelmed by the world.

One technical note: this didn’t need Isabelle Huppert’s star power. It would have been better without her. (5/5)

—January 4, 2023


EO (2022), a Polish film by Jerzy Skolimowski.

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