OKJA – Fantasy Turns to Reality About Corporate Greed, Consumerism, Ethical and Moral Judgment, and Saving A Lovable Mutant Super Pig
Okja is a heart-warming, touching story of a young girl’s love for her giant pet super pig and the lengths that she will go to get her kidnapped pig back. Part sci-fi, part moral activism, part sinister nightmare, part adventure, but based on truth—Okja takes us on a thrilling, action-packed, heart-pounding ride from an idyllic, tranquil mountain farm in South Korea to the bustling concrete streets of Seoul and New York City where animal activism, corporate greed, scientific ethics, the meat industry, commercial exploitation, and human compassion all get played out with great imagination.
The engrossing screenplay by director Bong Joon-ho and Jon Ronson is a narrative that addresses the crossroads of corporate responsibility and greed, the ethics of meat production and consumption, the industrial farming of animals, the ethics of science using genetic manipulation of animals for food, and the rights that animals have and don’t have in our culture and system.
Mija’s Okja was created in an animal laboratory by a powerful food corporation called Mirando. Through genetic manipulation, Mirando engineered 26 super mutant pigs, and sent them around the world to be raised on family farms for the next 10 years. But now fully grown, Mirando Corporation wants their pigs back so they can produce more giant mutant pigs to increase profits. Mirando designs a competition to get their super pigs back—and that’s when Mija’s idyllic and innocent village life turns upside down. Okja is suddenly sold to Mirando without her knowing, and is in transport to Seoul then America while Mija is away. Mija is angry at her grandfather for selling her beloved pet pig and feels betrayed, so she becomes a warrior to rescue Okja from what she learns will be his fate, and bring him back home.
The film portrays the tug-of-war between Mija who see her pig as a true friend, and the bond between human and animal—the animal activists who fight for the rights of animals and against animal cruelty and exploitation; and the industrial animal complex that only sees animals as profit centers, not as sentient, emotional beings. The villain of Okja isn’t one person, but rather an entrenched agricultural-food system that consumers unconsciously or consciously (or both) support for cheap food despite the cruelty involved. It’s about an industrial complex of players that profit heavily from producing cheap animal food through genetic manipulation, industrial factory farming, and by providing zero animal welfare, to increase corporate profits. As Okja portrays, it’s a system that is perverting nature, creating monster-like and unnaturally large animals, who are horribly mistreated and abused, cruelly confined, and finally slaughtered by the billions—to meet consumers’ demand for animal products.
While Okja is a fantasy pig, real pigs are suffering in misery every single day as Okja and Okja’s fellow pigs do. Only real pigs can’t break free, they are imprisoned in an industrial farm system that torments and tortures them every moment for our appetites. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to eat less meat and dairy, or better—no meat and dairy. Every animal feels like Okja, each animal in our cruel system seeks the expression of natural behaviors, the exposure to sun and daylight, to keep and nurture their young, to move, run and walk, to be respected, and to act independently as we do—instead of being confined to cages so small they are prevented from moving, and to be released from the cruelty and abuse that is meted out to them each and every day, for food.
World Film Premier: May 2017 in Cannes, released on Netflix in June 2017
Film Length: 120 Minutes
Watch the Film – Now streaming on Netflix
Roger Ebert’s Review
Hindustan Times Review
“We are animal lovers. We rescue animals from slaughterhouses. For 40 years our group has liberated animals from places of abuse.” ~ Animal Rights Group
“We reveal their atrocities to the public. We tear down cages and set them free. We inflict economic damage on perpetrators of systematic animal cruelty. But we never, ever hurt anyone—human or non-human—that’s our 40-year credo.” ~ Animal Rights Group
“Too bad you had to tell all those little white lies.” ~ Corporate CEO
“If it’s cheap, they’ll eat it. Put all the pigs into production – send them to the slaughterhouse!” ~ Corporate CEO
Story By: Bong Joon-ho
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho
Screenplay By: Bong Joon-ho and Jon Ronson
Cinematographer: Darius Khondji
- Tilda Swinton
- Jake Gyllenhall
- Paul Dano
- Lily Collins
- Ahn Seo-hyun
- Byun Hee-bong
- Steven Yeun
- Choi Woo-shik
- Shirley Henderson
- Daniel Henshall
- Devon Bostick
- Giancarlo Esposito