Review — Earthlings

Posted: July 10, 2010 in Alex Miller, Film, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


[Author: Alex Miller]

“Make the Connection.”

Strangely enough, I discovered this documentary while reading an interview on regarding the movie “Inception”. In the interview, Ellen Page brings up this documentary describing it as “one of the most important and disturbing films she had ever seen”. Well such wild claims must be investigated of course. I went to the film’s website and discovered they have put up the entire film for free: LINK. I figured I’d turn it on and see if it was any good, and I never stopped. Click the jump for the full review!

“Earthlings” is an environmental documentary, and before I say anything else, I really need to mention that:

!!!!!!!THIS FILM IS GRAPHIC!!!!!!!!

And by graphic I mean, if you had told me you had watched a 2hr video of kittens being murdered, I would reply “Big deal I’ve seen Earthlings.”

Narrated (adequately) by Joaquin Phoenix, this award-winning documentary uses old footage but mostly new footage (including some from supposedly hidden cameras) to graphically show the mistreatment of animals around the world. First off, I don’t judge documentaries by how entertained I was while watching them. I judge them by how well they argued their case regardless of whether I agreed with them. If I was grading this film on how easy it was to watch I would give it a 0. In fact, if you can watch the whole thing without covering your eyes you are a stronger person than I. This documentary doesn’t disguise the fact that it basically wants you to become a vegan. I think it argues its case in a visual way and it does so effectively. Personally, I’m an independent meat-eating military member. I can still appreciate where they are coming from.

I’ve watched my fair share of documentaries and I know how they work. They use overly dramatic music combined with footage out of context and a 1-sided narrator to argue their point. This one is no different. In fact, it even compared animal cruelty to the Holocaust. Just a tip, if anyone ever compares anything to the Holocaust you should probably turn off your ears, because they’ve gone off the deep end. I almost shut off the documentary right then, but it got better. MUCH better. In fact, I would almost recommend skipping the first 15 minutes of the film as I consider that to be the worst part.

So what was good about it you ask? Well to be honest it was just the sheer magnitude of cruelty. It was unbelievable. I can see you sitting there saying “Big deal they showed a pig getting a nail gun to the head right?” No more like, they showed animal shelters using gas chambers, people killing animals with trash compactors, and anal electrocution (and that was chapter 1). Really and honestly I don’t want to be talking about the movie right now. I doubt I’ll be able to sleep tonight. Whatever your opinion on the subject, if this footage doesn’t evoke an emotional response, you’re already as dead inside as these animals are.

Do I think you should go become a vegan now? I sat through it and I have no intent of becoming a vegan. However, if you can’t sit through it you should 100% become a vegan because at that point you are just looking the other way. If you can go the whole film and at the end you say “Wow that was sad, but we still need to eat meat. Maybe there are some other things we can change.” I will say to you “Fair enough. I agree.” Really just watch it. It’s free and then you can make up your own mind like I did. I may not agree with the technical message, but I agree with where the filmmaker’s heart was at. I also plan on taking a closer look at this issue in the future thanks to this film.

I didn’t post the trailer this time because it really doesn’t do the film justice at all. It’s free so check it out and let me know what you think about it in the comments!


  1. Ella says:

    I cried throughout the film. The images, one after another, are truly disturbing. I had to look away in between sobs because it was simply unbearable.

  2. I just watched the movie last night. I was appalled, dumbfounded and left completely speechless. As it is, I’m unable to watch any form of cruelty (on screen or otherwise), so a quarter way into the film I couldn’t take it anymore and I just listened to the movie in the background, switching over to catch glimpses.

    I am (was?) a meat-eating gal. I’m currently doing 30 days on raw food, so I’m already aware of the benefits of eating vegan. However, I’m one of those people who take the “don’t tell me so I won’t know” stance. I’ve purposefully avoided watching this film for that reason. (Yes, I’m THAT ignorant.)

    Now that I’ve watched it, I’m not sure I can ever turn back. The only way I can see myself eating meat/dairy again is if I can vouch for how the animals were treated (as in raising my own chickens, getting raw milk from a small local farmer, etc).

    I believe God allowed humans to eat meat after the Flood, but I also know He doesn’t condone the mistreatment of animals. I cannot, in good conscience, continue my meat eating habits. I cannot willingly allow myself to be part of the senseless, inhuman carnage.

  3. Jimmie says:

    I got 25 minutes in. I’ve been vegetarian for a year and I am now en route to veganism faster than ever before.

    Your comment about if you can’t sit through it then you should be vegan is exactly right.

    Otherwise you’re just being an ignorant bastard.

    Guess those nachos are off the cards tonight, I’ve got some vegan food around though… I will be fine without being an ignorant bastard.

  4. Buddah says:

    Watching earthlings had me in tears.. The truth is seeing the holocaust and human misery didn’t hurt as much as seeing what humans do to animals.. If I could find these people I would put them through the same misery.. We are all earthlings, what goes around comes around.. If I had the power I would release all the pain and suffering we put animals through.. All earthlings should be free to lead a long and happy life.. I commend all the work done to produce this film it opens up our minds as to what really happens in slaughter houses, where our food comes from.. Our world will never change no matter how many films like this come out it will make no difference.. We are about business, money and pleasure..

  5. Tamara says:

    Unable to watch this movie without having my hands to my eyes. Unable to watch the entire movie. I always had a hard time eating beef, I stopped eating porc years before I met my jewish boyfriend. (thinking that we were eating kosher meat I felt like we were making better choices, being Canadian also gave some false sense of security. I guess its all what they what you to see and more importantly BUY! We make these choices everytime

  6. Tamara says:

    …. everytime we put an item in our shopping cart. We are letting the companys know what we want. We still have a choice, they are not putting the items in our shopping carts yet!! I don’t think I’m a vegan today, but I am off beef, already porc free, having a very difficult time with the poultry. Would never go near veal. And enjoy fish ( only kosher fish) I feel like the worst hypocrite. I don’t know how to feel. We are taught to eat meat, and that

  7. lauren says:

    Thank you for the balanced review. I saw ‘Earthlings’ last night, and while I feel like I’ve been poisoned [nausea, headache, insomnia] I know that people need information in the first place to make informed choices.

    Big business and governments can be pressured to change, as demonstrated by the plummeting fur trade and rise of free range poultry — but as Noam Chomsky would say, those two big bed fellows prefer complacency and malleability as dominant traits among us tax paying consumers.

    While I’m not vegan, I know when we organize and speak up, we can exert pressure and create positive changes. Thank you for giving such a straight up response to this film and for giving it a bit of air time.

  8. Wendy says:

    “…but we still need to eat meat.” No, in fact we don’t. As any reputable nutritionist (check out the American Dietetic Association) will tell you, a properly planned vegan diet is perfectly healthy at any stage of life, much more so than the typical Western diet.

    You do not need to eat the flesh, secretions, or eggs of animals to survive and thrive.

    The immense tragedy of the over 10 billion land animals who are slaughtered a year in this country alone is not only That they suffer, but that they suffer Needlessly. In a developed country such as ours, where a variety of delicious and nutritious plant-based foods is easily accessible, the Only reason we eat meat, milk, eggs, etc, is because we like the way they taste. Period.

    Be honest with yourself; is pleasure a good enough reason to pay other people to do what you just saw?

    (…go vegan!) :-P

  9. Andrew Begg says:

    Its a great film, no question. Disturbing and truly startling. Its impossible not to be moved. I just hope hundreds of millions of people who live in blissful ignorance get to see it too .

  10. Allie says:

    This film has locked down my idea of becoming a vegetarian. Toying with the idea for a while now and the nail is in the coffin for my meat eating days.

    i agree with this review aside from one point. the part where u said it was wrong to compare some animal produce institutes to concentration camps found in the holocaust. i dont understand why it is not suitable for this to be said. The animals suffer as much as any jewish human did in those times. As animals feel pain and fear the way humans do, then why is it not acceptable to compare the suffering. To say otherwise is speciesism. If anything I would say the suffering is greater for alot of the animals in this film.

  11. jonboy says:

    I am returning to a vegan diet tomorrow, so I was looking for some recipes on youtube…thats when I ran across an interview with Ellen and she was talking about this documentary, I just watched Food inc a couple weeks back…and Ellen warned that this would be way more intense…so I checked it out, I am forever convinced…progress in this sense is not progress…we were not intended to live like this…we were meant to be stewards of the earth, sadly most probably dont have a clue about this, I know I didnt…this movie is a must see.

  12. Estelle Sirot says:

    I watched Earthlings last night… I am a high school teacher who was just looking for information on animal welfare since I’ll be the sponsor of the Humane society club of my school this year.(first thing I’ll do is change the name of the club because I feel we need to reflect on what “humane” really means…). I have always considered myself knowledgeable over animal welfare and cruelty but I could NOT believed I had not heard of this documentary before!!!!. I had watched, and was about to watch “The cove”… I just happened to run into “earthlings”, I paused… and asked myself: are you going to be strong enough to watch or are you going to look away?… like most of us do?. I cried and was angry the entire time but I am glad I watched…I am depressed by the amount of cruelty we are capable of but glad I watched so that, me and others, being “aware” and not looking the other way, we pay tribute to that poor and beautiful dog who was thrown away alive in a trash compactor, so that this poor fox, skinned alive, looking at the camera, did not die in silence… and they stays alive in the knowledge I have gained. I watched and became more conscious of the choices I choose to make and will make from now on…I am haunted by these images but this is a little price to pay for the suffering of all the species we as a human kind abuse…
    I had thought about becoming a vetetarian for a while but could not quite make the full decision… I was buying organic meat thinking, for sure, that the animal would be treated better… Today I have made the transition to becoming a vegetarian, I choose to not be part of all this unnecessary suffering and cruelty. Knowledge is power… spread the word around your friends and people… It is now our responsibility to not let the big meat/poultry industries the entertainment and the clothing instrustries as well as the medical field to tkeep the secret behind closed doors… not a single of my pennies will go towards feeding their greedy and fatty banks accounts…I pledge to not buy leather ever again or any product that experiments on animals… I have to change my ways and it starts today.

  13. Carrie Anne says:

    I watched Earthlings AFTER becoming a vegan for health reasons. This documentary was 100% the thing that stopped any and all cravings I might have to ever consume another animal product again. It absolutely sealed my fate as a vegan. It is one of the most beautiful and moving films I have ever seen while at the same time inhumanely grossly graphic yet absolutely truthful. The connection between all life on this planet is not lost on me, the eloquent way in which the narrator describes this connection is breathtaking and speaks to your spirit, you cannot ignore it because you know deep down it is the truth.
    I am not someone who aims to convert people to veganism, I believe it a choice and I know had anyone attempted to convert me before I was ready I would not have listened. It’s a matter of education, self evolvement, opening of the heart, lack of narcissism that leads many to choose veganism, if not for health reasons, then for environmental or animal rights.
    all you have to do is look at your pet and wonder how you would “feel” if you saw it tortured, mistreated, killed, ground up, and then told to bbq it and enjoy it with a bun and some coleslaw and that it’s healthy!! we all know that look in our pets eyes, of excitement to see us, love for us, needing us, unspoken words but so clear to us because we feel that emotion with our heart. veganism and this film invite us to open our hearts and feel what these animals are suffering at the fate of those with closed hearts, closed minds, closed and narcissistic minds. We choose to protect those who cannot protect themselves through our education and choices.
    It is WELL proven that we do not NEED to eat meat or dairy or eggs to survive and thrive. In fact, we do more harm to ourselves by ingesting these products. We thrive and heal our bodies when we eat a vegan menu. So what the hell are we doing? We are making ourselves sick, destroying the planet, torturing animals… and for what?? ask yourself that question the next time you HAVE to have a hamburger or turkey dinner.

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