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ZOO LOCK DOWN

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by Andreas Horvath

grade: 7.5

Andreas Horvath has shown us something very specific with simple but essential shots. And so, this interesting Zoo Lock Down immediately proves to be an extremely topical and necessary documentary. A simple and at the same time refined work that makes a studied minimalism its workhorse. At the Diagonale’23.

When all was calm

The lockdown that took place because of the pandemic, as we all know, was something totally unexpected for everyone. During this period, everyone had to reorganise their lives by adapting to certain rules and limiting interpersonal contacts as much as possible. Deserted streets and cities are something we had practically never seen before, except in some film set in a dystopian reality. But what about animals? How did animals react to such an unusual situation? In his documentary Zoo Lock Down, presented as part of the programme of the Diagonale’23, director Andreas Horvath showed us the life inside a zoo during the pandemic. An extremely alienating but, at the same time, totally fascinating reality, if one thinks, above all, that in this period the animals were finally able to live quietly, without being constantly disturbed by numerous, noisy visitors.

In Zoo Lock Down, therefore, the director’s camera simply observes what happens inside the Salzburg zoo. Silent images are worth a thousand words. While a rhinoceros is intent on strolling alone behind a fence, some monkeys look curiously in the direction of the camera. And while a man is intent on cleaning the piranha tank, there are also those who are ready to monitor the animals inside the aforementioned zoo and help those in need.

Everything is alienating, unusually quiet, in Zoo Lock Down. An essential and minimalist directorial approach proved to be the right solution to show us the life inside the park at a time when the whole world seemed to have taken a break. The animals finally seem calm and relaxed, but, at the same time, constant music suggests something different. Are the animals shown to us in Zoo Lock Down really free? Are they really in optimal living conditions? Observing the numerous fences and walls on which natural landscapes are painted, we sadly realise how such freedom is, unfortunately, an entirely illusory reality.

Andreas Horvath has shown us something very specific with simple but essential shots. And so, this interesting Zoo Lock Down immediately proves to be an extremely topical and necessary documentary. A simple and at the same time refined work that makes a studied minimalism its workhorse and that, little by little, increasingly takes on the connotations of a thriller. A thriller with magnetic charm and contemplative mood, a snapshot of a special moment in history that will probably never return. Inside the zoo, suddenly, the voices of adults and children become increasingly loud. The lockdown is now over. The tranquillity and peace of the previous months are now only a vague memory.

Original title: Zoo Lock Down
Directed by: Andreas Horvath
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 72’
Genre: documentary
Screenplay: Andreas Horvath
Cinematography: Andreas Horvath
Produced by: Andreas Horvath

Info: the page of Zoo Lock Down on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Zoo Lock Down on iMDb; the page of Zoo Lock Down on the website of the Austrian Film Commission