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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'EO': A Surrealistic Odyssey About a Gray Donkey Languidly Trekking Across Eastern Europe


Movie poster for EO (2022)

EO (2022) is a surrealistic Polish-Italian drama that follows a circus donkey named "EO" on a journey across Eastern Europe, experiencing varying instances of kindness, cruelty and despair. Departing from his loving trainer Kasandra (Sandra Drzymalska) after the circus goes bankrupt, EO wanders the Polish landscape interacting with humans and nature alike, without destination or outright intention.


Adorning a blank yet telling expression of awareness, EO drifts from place to place, seemingly at the hands of fate and folly. The humans who attempt to subjugate him as a hireling often suffer unexpected fates, while the natural world remains indifferent or downright hostile to his presence. We follow EO's interludes involving activists, farmers, hooligans, derelicts and a young priest traveling to visit his mother—just as we share his experiences immersed in nature, unsure of his place within the natural order. We project our fears and uncertainties upon the young gray donkey along the way, yet we remain simultaneously removed from his practical thought process.


Inspired by Robert Bresson's classic Au Hasard Balthazar (1966), director Jerzy Skolimowski and cinematographer Michał Dymek have crafted a dreamlike and immersive odyssey out of EO's passage, with a major lift from Paweł Mykietyn's mesmerizing musical composition. Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at the 95th Academy Awards, it's an unusual departure from child-friendly animal tales, instead delivering a documentary-like portraiture of humanity at war with itself—EO as the ever-present observer.

 

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