It has been a wonderful year for the animal kingdom at the Oscars. The Elephant Whisperers has two adorable pachyderms. All That Breathes is about a family that rescues magnificent black kites. RRR has plenty of computer-generated animals, which feature in one of the film’s wildest sequences.

A miniature donkey and a horse contribute to a tender moment in the Oscar-winning documentary Navalny. The Banshees of Inisherin has another miniature donkey, cutely named Jenny, as well as goats, horses, cows and a Border collie.

But the donkey of the awards season is clearly EO from the film named after him. Acclaimed Polish director’s Jerzy Skolimowski’s tribute to the Robert Bresson classic Au Hasard Balthazar speculates on the inner life of an animal that is frequently misunderstood or ill-treated.

EO moves from a circus to an animal rescue home and then sets out on the animal equivalent of a road adventure. EO’s journey brings him in contact with the spectrum of human nature, from kindness to cruelty and tolerance to parochialism.

EO is available on Prime Video. Across 88 sublime minutes, Skolimowski and cinematographer Michal Dymak imagine how the quadruped might react to death, the beauty of the natural world as well its destruction, and the pettiness of humans.

Scenes shot from the donkey’s perspective provide a snapshot of contemporary Europe. One of the sequences makes a direct link between the present and one of the darkest chapters in the history of the continent and the world.

Dialogue is kept to the minimum, and the actors – including the legendary Isabelle Huppert – submit to the movie’s wandering protagonist. There is plenty of transcendental wonderment as well as a sobering reminder of the four-legged creatures with whom we share an ailing planet.

EO (2022).