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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

Only the Animals

by writer/director Dominik Moll

Only the Animals is based on a novel by French writer Colin Niel. When I first read the book, I didn’t know much about it, except that it was a murder story. A friend of mine had told me I should read it. From the first pages on there was something unusual and exciting about it. I liked that the story starts with the point of view of a social worker in rural France, not exactly the kind of character you would associate with a crime story. And then, once you begin to identify with Alice and her thoughts on a woman’s unexplained disappearance during a snowstorm, the narrative suddenly switches to another character, Joseph, whom you know to be Alice’s lover. And now you have his point of view of the story. And what a strange and tormented and worrying character he is. And then the point of view changes again. And again. And then you suddenly not only switch character perspective but also continents. You are no longer in a snowy mountain landscape but in a big African city, hot and sticky. Each of these changes takes you off-guard, but heightens your attention, stimulates you, because little by little you start piecing things together, and see how all elements are connected.

As a filmmaker I like challenges and the adaptation of this novel was definitely an exciting one. In Room to Dream, David Lynch writes that “reading something is like catching ideas, you picture it in your heart and your mind.” There were many ideas to catch here. Pictures that popped up in heart and mind. And contrasts to play with: snow and tropics, solitude and partying, money and no money, dreams and disillusion, love and murder. The story is dark and playful at the same time. The characters have something pathetic but also a certain grandeur. Each one of them is searching for an ideal, and the addition of these searches lead to a catastrophe. I like this irony. And I like to explore what’s hidden under the surface, how people can lie to others but even more so to themselves.

Posted October 21, 2021

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