“Of all the films I have ever made, this is the one that gets people talking the most.”
- Joaquin Phoenix
Earthlings is not that kind of movie that just points the finger on companies, but approaches the subject of animal rights in a very intellectual way.
More precisely, it explores our total dependence on “non-human” providers and takes the viewer through the whole process of what’s done to animals by every day in order to make money.
After seven minutes of opening, the film splits up in five parts (Pets, Food, Clothing, Entertainment and Science), chronicling the day-to-day practices of the animal industry. Literally two thirds of the footage was shot undercover with hidden cameras and only 20% were filmed by writer/director Shaun Monson himself; the rest was provided to him from existing footage.
Never-the-less Earthlings was over five years in the making and after being finished “the greatest challenge was to get people to see it”, as Monson says in a featurette on his website.
The movie was initially released just on the Internet, because no distributor could be found due to very violent images. Monson should have cut the worst parts out for the documentary to be released in a regular way - but he didn’t, so there was just the Internet to promote it.
People would have probably knocked it out of their heads very fast, locking it away in the category of movies they don’t want to be aware of, if there wasn’t Academy Award Nominee Joaquin Phoenix participating as a narrator and spokesperson (Phoenix himself has been fighting for animal rights for a long time). In addition to the famous actor musician Moby joined and provided a score.