Episode #94: The Ox
Listen to Episode 94 of the Podcast here while you enjoy the show notes.
SUMMARY - In The Ox, Helge (played by Stellan Skarsgård) is struggling to provide for his family. He lives in a small town with his wife and new baby where work and food are both sparse. In an act of desperation, he decides to kill one of his boss’ two oxen and hide the crime in order to stay alive.
Screenplay by Sven Nykvist and Lasse Summanen; Directed by Sven Nykvist; and premiered in Sweden on November 22, 1991.
The movie has an incredibly somber feel from the start. Looking at cold and frost with flat whites and very little color to be seen.
This is discussing a period of famine, so everything makes sense to be dour and this director is known for purposeful muting.
And then when we get to the prison setting, color is sucked out even more.
We get a quick start with strong acting to show the first aspect of conflict
There are several themes running through this movie. Various relationship and showing the class system to start.
Discussions centering around religion and morality and when do they sometimes not intersect
When is omitting the truth the right thing to do? Is it the same as lying?
In short the movie has the potential to be great for an ethics class type setting.
However, we were a bit confused at how abrupt the ending felt.
Awards Talk: It was Oscar nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film, but that's surprisingly about where the accolades ended.
TRUE CRIME & POP CULTURE
This week we don't have any crime to speak of necessarily, but Nikki does provide some additional resources that talk about the Swedish Famine of 1867
It's also been a while since we've talked about music, so to lighten the mood, here are the Top 5 and Bottom 5 of the week of November 23, 1991
1) Michael Bolton - When A Man Loves A Woman
2) Prince and the NPG - Cream
3) PM Dawn - Set Adrift On Memory Bliss
4) Boyz II Men - It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday
5) Bryan Adams - Can’t Stop This Thing We Started
100. KMC Kru - The Devil Came Up To Michigan
99. MC Breed and DFC - Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin’
98. UB40 - Groovin’
97. Hi-Five - Just Another Girlfriend
96. Michael W. Smith - For You
RANKINGS & RATINGS
Nikki 1-5 star scale - 2 out of 5
Jon 0-4 star scale - 2 1/2 out of 4
Would you watch it again? - It's a decent movie, and it held our attention, but never gripped us in any meaningful way. And while you can create several ethical or moral discussion points out of the events seen in "The Ox," we'd much rather dive deeper into the Bergman catalog (which largely featured director Sven Nykvist's cinematography) instead.
If you want to watch The Ox, as of this recording in December 2022, it’s available on Tubi, Freevee, Digital Rental, VHS. Check your local listings.
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