Men & Chicken
by writer/director Anders Thomas Jensen
“What genre is it?” That’s one of the very first questions any filmmaker is asked when pitching a story. Producers and distributors need to know what to present to the audience, the audience needs to know what to expect. We all want to be surprised but not too much.
However much I enjoy the comfort of watching a classic western, sci-fi, horror, a straight up comedy or drama, I’m a sucker for the unsettling joy of not knowing exactly what I’m watching, not knowing how I’m supposed to react, not being sure whether to laugh or cry but just go along for the ride.
Between my last directorial film Adam's Apples and Men & Chicken, ten years went by. I focused on writing genre scripts for other directors, and during those years I became the father of four kids. So it was only natural that Men & Chicken had to be a cross between genres, dealing with the subject of “life.”
My children’s natural way of using their basic instincts made me think about the precariously thin layer of varnish we call civilization. How, unlike animals, we do not have strong survival instincts, but instead we need others to communicate to us how to behave and act in order to survive and gain social relations with other people within the social rules we have created through time. Like many before me I took some deep breaths when thinking about the insanely huge responsibility suddenly bestowed on me, having to raise four kids. What would happen if my wife or I weren’t there to teach them right from wrong, patience, sharing, tolerance, communicating? What if they were left on a desert island? Left to create their own world with its own rules? For starters, I’m pretty sure violence, stealing and lying would be par for the course in such a world. At least for a while. But I’m also sure that life somehow would find its way as it always does.
And that’s where Men & Chicken came from; a pack of sons who play the deck of cards that Fate dealt them as best they can, learning that “life” itself is imperfection. It’s what we do with what we got that counts.
Men & Chicken is a hybrid of many genres. It spans from slapstick through drama, tragedy, comedy to thriller, hopefully reflecting the absurdity of life and human nature.