Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Barbecue" -- new documentary available on Netflix

"Barbecue" is a newly-released film by Australian director Matthew Salleh. It begins with a portrayal of a South African who created the barbecue stand shown above by cleaning up a trashed corner shop.

The life of the hard-working black man makes a considerable contrast with the white South Africans who are shown barbecuing and having picnics on their beautiful lawns as a social activity. Their attitudes reflect their privilege, in contrast to the working man with his hard-earned livelihood.

One unusual feature of this documentary: there's no narration, only the voices of the people who are interviewed. Sometimes their words seem a little strange and out-of-context, but on the whole it's an effective way to convey the contrasts among the 12 cultures that are represented in the film.

The focus jumps from culture to culture and continent to continent -- Japanese yakitori chefs, Maori pit barbecues, Mexican mescal preparation, young Swedish men & women with disposable grills, older men in Uruguay, central Texas pit masters, and many more. You watch fire-building, charcoal-making, animal slaughter, meat being chopped with axes and beaten with mallets, whole animals being placed on skewers, and much more. Occasionally a vegetable sneaks into the action, but mostly it's meat, meat, meat.

This is a Mongolian family, one of the most interesting segments of the hour and 40 minutes of the film. 
Another scene in Mongolia -- preparing a marmot for the cooking fire.

Mongolia: yurts, trucks, motor cycles, and the open sky.
In Armenia, several men talk about how they enjoy cooking over a fire.
In a refugee camp on the border of Syria and Jordan, we watch a schwarama cook preparing and flaming the meat,
and talking about how he would like to return to his home.
Maoris in New Zealand prepare a barbecue...

And one of the very few women who is interviewed in the course of the 12 cultures describes how women used to be
the ones who cooked over open fires, and how people didn't sit down for fear they would be attacked.
Netflix just released this documentary a few days ago. It's too long to watch in just one sitting: we stopped after approximately the first half, and then watched the rest later. Some of the segments are definitely better than others, but on the whole it's quite interesting.

Also, I found the music weird -- often it seemed to have nothing at all to do with the content of the visuals and interview topics. In one scene, you see street Mexican or South American musicians and dancers, but the music is entirely different and not synchronized or at all related to the action.


Beth F said...

I have this in my queue. Sounds different.

Judee@gluten Free A-Z Blog said...

Sounds like I will have to watch this one -looks interesting

Vicki said...

Adding this to my Netflix list.

Mae Travels said...

For completeness: list of countries/regions for which "Barbecue" has an entry:
New Zealand
South Africa