Movies that showcase the affection between a human and an animal have a universal and timeless appeal. Netflix has bet on such a story for its original production, the Korean language film Okja (2017). The film premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and received a four-minute standing ovation. Okja is directed by Bong Joon-ho who made the interesting film – The Host (2006).
A young girl Mija is living with her grandfather in a mountain village in South Korea. Her pet is a giant pig that she rears on their open farm. Named Okja, the super pig is one of the many sent around the world to local farmers by a giant multinational food corporation. After ten years after their birth, Okja wins the competition that was held to select the best and biggest of them all. Okja is separated from Mija and sent to for the grand event in New York, USA. Unable to bear the loss, Mija goes in search of her pet from possible slaughter. Can a little girl, take up a giant corporation? – that’s why the Director has included ALF (Animal Liberation Front), an Animal welfare body and its freakish members providing all assistance to Mija.
In the beginning, the super pig looks scary to us due to its gigantic size, but as we see them running and playing Mija & Okja in the green mountains, we quickly develop a liking for Okja. We are deeply moved by the scene where Okja risks her own life to save Mija, reminding me of the Tamil film Annai Oru Aalayam (1979) in which Rajnikanth and a baby elephant save each other’s life.
Just like in The Host (2006), Okja is a mirror to see our own mindless actions, with a thread of fine humour running throughout the film; Director Bong Joon-ho doesn’t miss a chance to make fun of the powerful Americans and their global domination. The film has few profanity words used often and the images inside the giant slaughterhouse can be disturbing, but otherwise a good watch for everyone – teens and above.