With less than 10 days until the release of Netflix Original Movie Okja delivers a tale of animal cruelty and corporate harm.
“Okja” stars Seo-Hyun Ahn as Mija, who is best friends with, Okja, the lovable pig, and Tilda Swinton as Lucy Mirando, head of the Mirando Corporation. Other notable stars include Paul Dano as Jay, Lily Collins as Red, and Steven Yeun as K – all of whom are a part of the animal rights activists group, ALF, in the movie that rescues animals from impending harm.
Jake Gyllenhaal, as Dr. Johnny Wilcox, an animal “lover” but really a man who is corrupted by his want to experiment on animals, and Shirley Henderson, as Jennifer, Lucy’s direct aide, partner up to manipulate Mija in getting what they need for the Mirando Corporation. All of these actors and more, help bring a progressive movie to light.
If animal cruelty is what it takes to get food to our table, then how good is our moral if we eat it?
The film begins with Lucy, the promising new head of the family owned company Mirando Corporation, having taken the company over by her sister, presents to the world a new plan for the meat industry. With specifically focusing on pork, little pigs have been placed around the world to be brought up naturally by the local farmers to see which one would become the biggest pig, otherwise known throughout the movie as the super pig.
Okja, a female pig raised in South Korea by Mija and her father, becomes that super pig. Unaware of the agreement between the company and the competitors, Mija was in shock when her father gave Okja to Dr. Johnny, who presented them with the publication for raising the now super pig. Mija decides to run away and save Okja, but she is not alone in doing so.
The audience will witness how these pigs will be killed, and can only imagine the extent of the pigs about to be killed. This everlasting impression is what director Bong Joon-ho, an activist through this artwork, wants the audience to retain. If the movie toned down the impact of the cruelty, then it would not have been taken as seriously.
As Netflix faced the backlash from French film critics for not having this film be released theatrically, the press was quiet by the end of the movie. I happened to attend the press screening for this film, where Netflix’s logo received boos all around. The message of how animals need to be treated better, more humanely, while the need for human health and survival to be maintained, was evident in the tense aura hanging in the air of the screening.
The morality of oneself, companies, and society is the biggest theme within this movie. Greed, reputation, money accompany it as natural assets. This story was told with more than just it’s characters of obvious good and evil, with maybe a bit of good and evil blended together, as most of the characters we saw had good intentions for who they were looking out for. They just wanted their side to survive in the future, and one cannot simply blame someone for that at times.
The technical side did enhance these characters. Okja and Mija were enveloped in lush, green wilderness while Lucy and her company were in a busy city. Dr. Johnny’s lab and where Okja was almost slaughtered were equally gruesome to imagine as actual living conditions. The cinematography and art direction was astounding in natural portrayal while still playing with colors to affect the audience’s mood, especially with mixed personalities. Music and sound, just sound alone, even, affected the mood heavily but at the right times.
This movie is an action drama that one will want to watch again. It will make one feel, whether they display it on their personal laptop or big screen, and that is the objective. It is accessible to many, but will be appreciated for its work in vivid storytelling from what many would call a regular story with a different take and different characters, as how many movies come to be, great acting/casting, and an overall sense of what can be done in one’s life to at least appreciate Earth more, even though this movie is about one lovable pig.