Zoo - The Edge of Understanding

Alliance Atlantis
Duration: 80min
Category: Documentary
Available: On DVD
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Zoo certainly isn't going to be for everyone. Not simply because it is an exploration of attitudes and opinions regarding the death of man who had been having sex with a horse. It is more likely too disturbing to most audiences because it refuses to condemn him and instead gives a voice to all those involved from those involved in this kind of behavior to those who are uncomfortable with it and those who outright condemn it.

Zoo isn't set up like a normal documentary. In Laramie Project style, it uses actors reading actual quotes from the involved parties. However, unlike in Laramie there are no reenactments. The voiceovers act as narration for a series of almost post-card like images which are meant to invoke emotion, geography, disease, normalcy. Zoo is almost soothing in how it lulls you into a place where you can actually contemplate the issue.

That's the challenge here. Beastiality or Zoophilia is such a taboo that our culture isn't prepared to deal with it. Making a film about the issue and its impact is exceedingly difficult as it will be hard for anyone to approach the subject without disgust and or ridicule. Therefore, the greatest accomplishment of Zoo is how it creates a "safe place" for contemplation to occur. It helps normalize without justifying. It makes it okay for us to consider the pros and cons, the reality of the situation and finally begin to address this formerly unspeakable predilection.

Zoo is almost too safe. We are never brought to the place where we can begin to understand the point of view of a zoophile. Maybe that's too hard to do. Still, as one narrator notes, we are just on the edge of understanding and that makes us better at being able to deal with it.

If you can bring yourself to think about these things, Zoo is a stunning film to watch. A film that will make you reconsider what you know and help us to see that people who do things we find repugnant remain people too.

Review By: Collin Smith

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