This documentary debuted at Cannes Film Festival in 2021, but was released in theaters on a limited release in April. It is from Academy Award winning documentarian Andrea Arnold.
It is a fascinating look at the lives of two cows, a mother and her calf. The mother, a dairy cow, was named Luma and lived at Park Farm, in Kent, England.
The documentary, which is shot without any sort of voice over and only includes some background talking from the farmers, started with Luma giving birth to her calf. Not too long after this (in the film), they were separated as the calf was removed. The calls of the mother were some that I can remember growing up on a farm when the mother cow did not know where her calf was.
The film may feel a touch long because of the repetitive nature, but some of the shots are amazing, especially with the cows in the meadow with fireworks going off in the distance. The film does not skip any of the challenges that a dairy cow faces in a day, from simple things like flies to having their horns removed (in what looked like a terribly painful process).
It does seem that the idea of keeping the cow pregnant to maximize the amount of milk produced is a bit barbaric sounding. They bottle fed the calf to keep it from nursing on the mother.
The imagery of this film certainly tries to get the audience to connect with the cow and to create an emotional stake in the film (forgive the pun). It is tough to watch at times and it made me wonder what was going through the mind of these animals. All the close ups of Luma seem to indicate that the filmmakers wondered that as well.
And the final moments of the film will stick with you for awhile.
Cow is a fascinating look at the dairy cow process and how the cows play such a large role.