Ava Changnon Intro to Film Studies Blog

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November 15th, 2018

In Killer of Sheep by Charles Burnett, the viewer is taken into a realm of life that is unfamiliar to some. The late 70’s in LA with a Black family is foreign but what creates the compelling story is the clips of children playing in the streets. This is a universal activity for children no matter what decade or race. What makes the film real is that these scenes mirror those in In The Street, a documentary film by Helen Levitt, Janice Loeb, and James Agee about life on the street. Because of the documentary style of In the Street and the almost identical shots in Killer of Sheep, there is feeling of real children playing within the streets and not just actors playing the part. This makes Killer of Sheep authentic as it is a movie about seemingly real people in real situations. That is what makes it a neorealism film.

Killer of Sheep comments on the nature of jobs within the market. The main character works at a slaughter house and contrasting images of everyday life and his work, their are comparisons the reader of the film can make. I think this images are meant to conjure feelings of inequality within the main characters community. The constant unease and worrying about money and violence. The images of the slaughter house are sometimes to tough to watch and this is a comment on how easily we can watch images of poverty and low income homes and not be disgusted enough to look away. The movie is a commentary on the problems society has with addressing income inequality in society as the viewer of the film does not flinch at the desperation of the characters besides the sheep.

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