Much like his earlier High School, Frederick Wiseman’s Meat is essentially concerned with the dehumanizing forces within particular North American institutions. On the surface, Meat is simply its title, but digging a bit deeper reveals a film concerned with the death of the Old West and a look at the myth of masculinity’s role in the workplace—punctuated by quiet moments of reprieve tinged in surrealism and brutality, like a goat leading a flock of sheep to their demise or a circle of steer heads on a line of hooks. Following industrial production from livestock to grocery store, the business side of meat manufacturing, and workers’ struggles and budget concerns—with inevitably stomach-turning footage of the process of transforming an animal from a living thing into a product—Wiseman locks his gaze on the simultaneously visceral and exhaustive process.

Dir. Frederick Wiseman, 1976, 16mm, 112 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!