Of all the films we have reviewed, Malgorzata Szumowska’s The Other Lamb is the most visually symbolic. The film features stunning cinematography that feels as if you are watching magazine photography in motion. Picturesque landscapes and set design in The Other Lamb also contribute to the beauty of the frame. Those images contain deep abstract meaning and directly correspond to the characters. Because the cinematic canvas is so rich, it allows for multiple interpretations. All these visual elements help flesh out Szumowska’s artistic vision.
Dominating the Frame
The Other Lamb features some very grand landscapes for such an intimate story. Much of the film takes place along what appears to be the Irish countryside. In the sequences involving the search for a new homestead, wide panoramic views fill the frame. The surrounding imagery visually dominates the small silhouettes of the characters. One way of interpreting this is as a visual echo of the Shepard’s grip on the women. The entire sequence could also be a metaphor for being swallowed up by a cult. The film contains many visual metaphors like these.
Water is another strong visual motif. The film opens with a shot of our main character Selah, floating beneath the water. She is awake, but there is a dream-like quality as the water pulls and folds her white gown. For those who have seen it, this sequence has an obvious connection to the end of the film. Aside from the obvious connection, you could also view it as a metaphor for baptism or initiation into the cult itself. There is also the element of sinking and drowning. That interpretation has both literal and figurative meaning for some of the characters.
Death and Rebirth
One final visual motif worth noting in The Other Lamb has to do with animals and sacrifice. The film contains many close-ups and long zoom-ins of animals. There are elements of life and death that involve animals consciously and subconsciously. At one point, the Shepard along with the flock, participate in animal sacrifice as a type of renewal or cleansing ceremony. In a dream sequence, we see stillbirth images of kids (baby goats). These themes come full circle at the end of the film, with the last shot of the Shepard. That image signals death, but also rebirth and new life for the women of the flock.
The sequences broken down here are just a small sample size of the symbolic richness crafted by Malgorzata Szumowska in The Other Lamb.