I’m not usually into films. I’m much more likely to read, because films rarely keep me engaged throughout, and I can dip in and out of books. I’ve also found that most films have become a bit ‘samey’, with a lacking storyline and overuse of special effects. But Okja? Oh my! This was such a beautiful, important film that I’m dedicating an entire post to it.
I know nothing about the technicalities of filming, but in my opinion the camerawork is incredible, with amazing scenery throughout. But the main thing that drew me to the film was the themes covered which many films wouldn’t dare to approach. Just a quick pre-warning, I’m not purposely going to include many spoilers, but if you want to watch it without knowing anything about it first (and do watch it either way!), then maybe don’t read on.
Most films wouldn’t include controversial slaughterhouse scenes. It is something that many people are uncomfortable with, particularly the ‘I don’t eat meat from the bone because it looks like an animal’ demographic, who eat meat but are completely detached from the fact that their meat is in fact an animal. In my opinion, where meat comes from should not be controversial, and everyone should know the realities of food production, no matter how difficult they find it. If people are uncomfortable with it, maybe they should reconsider buying cheap meat.
The film (and myself) are not trying to force vegetarianism on anyone by any stretch (as I’ve said before, I think eating meat could be sustainable, but in moderation), but simply trying to raise awareness that these are the harsh realities of mass produced meat. The director (Bong Jong-ho) was interviewed about this, and said:
“I don’t expect the entire audience to convert to veganism after watching the film. If you consider it, even the protagonist Mija – her favourite food is chicken stew in the film. I don’t have a problem with meat consumption itself, but I do want my audience to consider, at least once, where the food on their plate comes from. And, if one is to do that, I believe the level of meat consumption will gradually decline.”
I think Okja works so well because the film begins so innocently, a typical kid (Mija) and her best friend scenario. You almost wonder where the film’s going for a while. But then, things get deep, especially the last few scenes, and because you’ve built a relationship with Mija and Okja, the lovable giant pig secretly produced using genetic engineering, the impact of the slaughterhouse is elevated. It’s truly moving, and I’m not easily moved.
However, it isn’t all gloom and doom, which I think is important in a film attempting to deliver an important message. Some parts made us laugh, and it was truly light-hearted and comedic for the majority of the film. The one character we didn’t like was the crazed ‘zoologist’, Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal). However, this was probably entirely intentional as he played a villain, but by the end his incessant screeching became unbearable.
I hadn’t heard of the director (Bong Jong-ho) before Okja, but from now on I will keep my eyes peeled for future releases. I’ll keep this post short and sweet to avoid including any more spoilers, but the long and short of it is, WATCH OJKA!