Our anthropomorphism comforts us while we watch the cute little fox jogging through Arne Sucksdorff's A Summer Saga (1941), sucking eggs and eating bugs -- but stings when we're confronted with the slaughterhouses of Georges Franju's The Blood of the Beasts (1949), as whistling, coffee-swilling butchers matter-of-factly dispatch a horse, a bull, and lambs whose limbs keep wiggling after decapitation. (The poetic narration is by Painleve.) Franju, whose later feature work (e.g., Eyes Without a Face) partakes from the same wellspring as this early documentary, introduces his film and breaks into it periodically with charming street-scene footage of urban-rural interface, all the better to set off the bloodletting from which our society springs. The program, which also includes the Edison Studio's Elephant Execution (1903), Ladislas Starevich's beautiful Voice of the Nightingale (1923), Moss and Thelma Schnee's Ant City (1951), Microcultural Incidents in Ten Zoos (1968), and George Kuchar's hilarious Mongreloid (1978), is a good way to begin rethinking animal-human relations -- from their perspective.
-- Gregg Rickman
"The Animal Other," presented by the S.F. Cinematheque, screens Sunday, March 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the S.F. Art Institute, 800 Chestnut (at Jones). Tickets are $7; call 558-8129.