Being an outside viewer of a mechanized world gives you a God-like perspective. We saw people, cars, and chickens existing as only mechanized movement, with no individuality or conveyance of emotions. When you step back from that perspective, realizing you’re one of them, you suddenly feel minuscule, at the complete whim of outside forces, with internal forces simply not mattering in the grand scheme. My brother, a fellow transit/urban nerd, showed me a clip of this film several years ago, with little to say about it, but a great deal perceived from the body language he used to present it. Experiencing the film is harrowing.
Coming down from the film, I can’t help but think about the great stress each driver in each vehicle advancing a single street during each green light, with no end in sight to the sea of traffic. The high speed mechanization processes were so dehumanizing, they made me better able to conceptualize each individual’s pain, and understand it as systematic. A single chick being processed on its own through a factory farm couldn’t give the same broadly specific idea as thousands being tumbled down a chute. You can almost laugh at how small individuals are to the group, how large their own experience of the world is, and how exponentially large the meaningless and powerless experiences of all are. The earliest scenes are of normality in the animal kingdom. Bathing. This is contrasted with our utterly strange world. Not the scholarly endeavors that set humans apart, but the things people end up actually doing, with little choice in the matter.