Some Thoughts on “Old Partner”

Matthew Blaisdell

Film Forum provides the following quote and review in its promotion for “Old Partner,” a film in a 1-week engagement at the theater (ending January 5th). (http://www.filmforum.org/films/oldpartner.html)

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened,”
 (Anatole France).  “Mr. and Mrs. Lee, elderly peasants, eke out a living from their farm in a remote portion of South Korea, served by a 40-year-old ox who is their friend, their colleague, their lifeblood — and clearly Mrs. Lee’s (successful) competitor for her husband’s love and loyalty. OLD PARTNER is a gentle, poignant tale of man and beast, one that will be familiar to anyone who has ever cherished a pet; but here that love is magnified by the symbiotic nature of the relationship. Mr. Lee gathers special fodder for his ox and refuses to use insecticide for fear of poisoning him. Like THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL, this is a moving documentary of near-biblical dimensions.”

Thinking about this film in the context of animal issues reminds me of two related ideas: 1) the value of symbiosis involved in domestication; and 2) the great tension between sentimentality and hard legal/policy analysis.  Continue reading