Judas Collar – I don’t mind admitting that when I finished watching this, I had no idea what I could say about it. Could my words really do justice to what I had seen? Even now, all I can do thinking about it is exhale deeply. Needless to say, this was rough – and everyone out there should watch it. Either right now or in the near future, it should be high up on your watch list.
Judas Collar follows a camel, somewhere in the Australian outback. Early on, after some Natural History-like footage of the herd in its natural habitat and glory, the camel is tranquilized and tagged with the Judas Collar. An ugly looking piece of technology that allows us to track this camel. Not long after, men in a helicopter with rifles come and fire on all the herd. Bar one that is. Alone and wondering, this camel finds another herd and is quickly accepted. Then the helicopter returns like the shark from Jaws. Not long after is the purpose of the Judas Collar realized.
This is one of those rare films where any criticism I had is mute, as it is the point. It made me angry. It offended me. Days on it has still upset me. I never, ever want to watch it again! But that’s good! I should feel this way. I can’t rightly remember when a film emotionally affected me this much. Being an animal lover, I suppose this isn’t too surprising a reaction.
The works of David Attenborough and National Geographic are typically my bread and butter. It amused me that Judas Collar, very wisely, uses such a way of filmmaking to get its story and points across. Looking back, it feels almost parodical of the type of documentary. The camels are certainly acting like they are completely in their natural element – most likely because they are. Although there are some shots that I can’t see being happy little accidents. Some coasting must have gone on at points to get the appropriate response from the camels.
When the film gets nasty – meaning when the helicopter arrives – we don’t actually see anything. We don’t see camels fall or fake, bloody puncture wounds. We don’t even see a lifeless camel corpse – well, not fully anyway, just a foot or part of a belly. We didn’t need to. The point is made, and it is made excellently. Any more would have been gratuitous and taken away from the point of the film. It would have also betrayed the cruelty free message of the video, I think.
I appreciate the film for not treating its audience like it was looking down on them. I had no idea what a Judas Collar even was – in fact when I first saw it, I thought it was a research tool – and the film knew and respected that. It’s like they knew that if I hadn’t heard of it then I would look it up later. The film also gives us the feeling that is a bad thing that should be stopped. Now, I hate animal cruelty and believe that we should respect all the animals out there. But I also like meat and can see, in some cases, why a cull can be necessary. I am on the fence about such things, but when something like Judas Collar shows what a waste of life and what a negative affect this has on the animals in question, I can’t help but be moved.
I can’t recommend it enough. I really can’t. It’s only 15 minutes long, so you don’t have the excuse of having no time to watch it. On the basis of how well it’s made, it is flawless – with beautiful cinematography and pitch perfect sound editing. I cannot commend writer/director Alison James enough for her film. I can only hope that I have done it justice here. For all the great films I’ve seen this year – be it the entertaining Shazam! or John Wick 3, the thought provoking Joker, the mindless fun of Crawl or the genuinely amazing Doctor Sleep – it might well be this short, simple, yet powerful film, that only askes you watch, listen and think, that could be film I remember most from this entire year.
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