Our Daily Bread (Geyrhalter, 2005)

Our Daily Bread

Shot in a contemporary-observational style, Our Daily Bread (Geyrhalter, 2005) intends to show and not tell. Documenting the technology of modern food production companies, there is no commentary and the only authorial expression the film retains is through the director/cameraman’s choice of material. As a result, viewers are expected to engage with the images and closely consider what is being shown.

This grandly cinematic film is unlike most documentaries of its time. Not only shot in Cinemascope, the film was shot in HD and transferred to film for screenings. Taking advantage of this, Geyrhalter deploys a style that would be rather difficult otherwise. For example,  mechanized long takes follow the mechanized food processes, static shots are entirely still, and camera movement is always done with the camera tracking (on a machine).

Since the film documents the labour and machines housed in a food processing plant, this style of filmmaking functions in directing the viewer’s eye to see the mundane superstructure of corporate food economies. The meticulous cinematography is meant to match the meticulous processes; the highly constructed framing gives light to the automated nature of modern technology that is being employed in food processing plants. Consequently, the film is effective in showing people what they don’t ordinarily see of an institution that most believe they are aware of. The lack of commentary instils the images with an unbiased power to elicit activity from the viewer—one must engage with the film and think for him/her self.

7.5/10

4 Stars

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About Kamran Ahmed

I have a Masters in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. I work as a freelance writer and film critic in Vancouver. My writing is primarily distributed through Next Projection, an online film journal based in Toronto.
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