See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Ravenous

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 1999 at 12:00 AM

The question is this: If you were banished to a desolate military outpost in the Sierra Nevada where savage winds howl over icy mountains in the company of wolves; if you were a bloody mess, stabbed in the belly and bleeding from the head, tormented by visions of perforated lungs rotting at the mercy of the consumption bacillus; if morality, values and discernment suddenly became obstacles in the path of your healing; if you had a few brutal choices to make that would allow you to keep on breathing but would strip you of all human traits, what would you do? Would you eat or would you die? Would you be a survivor or a quitter, a hero or a traitor to the human race?

"Eat to live, and not live to eat," said Ben Franklin, and the two main characters of this gruesome fable – Captain John Boyd (L.A. Confidential’s Guy Pearce) and Colqhoun (Robert Carlyle of The Full Monty and Trainspotting in a ferocious performance) – cannot help but obey his command. The year is 1847 and America, the land of relentless consumption, embraces both the white man who helps himself to the body of Christ every Sunday in church and the spirit of Weendigo, the old Indian myth which states that a man who eats the flesh of another steals his strength.

A tale which suggests that "cannibalism isn’t so much a matter of survival, but more a matter of want," Antonia Bird’s Ravenous is not a film for the squeamish or the hypocritical. Inspired by an actual historical event – the 1847 Donner Pass disaster in which a group of immigrants ran out of food and ate the bodies of their dead – Ravenous explores not only the nature of the human beast (survival of the fittest) but also the limits of the severe "hunger" triggered by addiction.

The jolly tunes of Michael Nyman (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover) which accompany the chilling performances of a superb cast add an unexpected touch of dark humor to this exquisite, sickly, beautiful feast. So, if your palate can take it … Bon Appétit!

E-mail comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Dayana Stetco

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit