“EO”: the ode to the donkey

Posted Oct 18, 2022 4:00 PM

In the cinema, there was “The Year of the Dragon” and “The Year of the Jellyfish”. Certainly, 2022 will remain the year of the donkey, forever engraved in the prize list of the Cannes Film Festival. In the Palme d’Or, Without filter », the poor donkey is killed by a band of wild humans. In ” The Eight Mountains (in theaters December 21), the donkey regains its function as a faithful carrier of heavy loads. The film shared the jury prize with “EO”, the ode to the donkey by Jerzy Skolimowski which is released today.

In French, “EO” is “Hi-Han”. This is the name of our hero. Donkey show, he leaves his dear dancer Kasandra when the circus that employed them closes its doors. Begins a long wandering through Europe. From the plains of Poland to the streets of Rome, Hi-Han will meet various humans who are not always welcoming, including a gang of overexcited hooligans, a truck driver or a priest in debt… but also horses, stray dogs or goldfish. The nomadic donkey will eventually reach a superb residence held by a mysterious countess, played by Isabelle Huppert. It is here that the film sags, as the French actress furiously smashes her dishes.

Philosopher on legs

It is a pity that Skolimowski has, even temporarily, moved away from his ass. After all, what a funny picaresque story where the animal is not a traveling companion but the subject of the entire film! We can read in “EO” a disturbing self-portrait of Jerzy Skolimowski. At 84, just like his donkey, the Pole has spent a good part of his career roaming around, between Belgium for the “Departure” (1967) or Great Britain for “Deep End” (1970) and “Black work (1982).

At the beginning of the 1990s, he had left the cinema to devote himself to painting for seventeen years. His mastery of colors, his art of composition make “EO” an unparalleled aesthetic experience. Sometimes the lens moves away to capture landscapes. Most of the time, he places us in the gaze of the animal to offer us a completely new point of view on the world. This wandering eye becomes a camera that probes the cruelty of humanity. Because the eye of the donkey is also, of course, our mirror.

From “King Kong” to “Jaws”, don’t the great films about animals talk about men? In this fabulous bestiary of cinema, Hi-Han will remain an enigma. What does he think of the chaos he is going through? Hi-Han advances, gentle or capable if necessary of a hell of a hoof kick. A paradoxical animal, the donkey willingly symbolizes stupidity and stubbornness. It has never taken on the nobility of the horse in our iconography. However, he is a philosopher on his feet. And “EO” convinces us of it, our world lacks donkeys and reason.



by Jerzy Skolimowski.

With Sandra Drzymalska, Isabelle Huppert and the donkeys Hola, Tako, Marietta, Ettore, Rocco, Mela. 1:26 a.m.

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“EO”: the ode to the donkey