Pecking Order Review
An eggcentric foray into the weird and wonderful world of chook fanciers
The chicken breeders of New Zealand all prepare as the National Poultry Show looms on the horizon but there’s a mutiny amongst the ranks and possibly fowl play at hand.Most people are familiar with some form of animal show in which owners primp and prune their beloved and prized creatures. Take Crufts for example – dogs are judged on a myriad of specifications – with each owner ultimately seeking out the highest accolade of Best in Show. So, if you took Crufts, moved it to New Zealand and swapped the dogs for chickens and added in some quirky characters then what you would have is Pecking Order.
Focusing on the members of the 148-year-old Christchurch Poultry, Bantam and Pigeon Club Pecking Order works its way up to the biggest event in any chicken fanciers calendar: The National Show. But this small community of chook lovers has more than a few ruffled feathers when the reigning club president has his position threatened by members of his own club.
The club members are from all walks of life and come in all ages but one thing they all have in common is their desire to win Best in Show and their love of their two legged feathered friends. As the date for the big event draws closer, we watch as they each begin the long and arduous task of selecting and preparing their prized chickens, all in an effort to win Best Bird in Show, judged of course by the New Zealand Poultry Standards.
Written and directed by Slavko Martinov, Pecking Order does run the risk of making fun out of its subjects. But with Martinov out of sight the entire time, he leaves the talking to the club members and any risk of turning exploitative thankfully never transpires. Instead we the audience are welcomed into the homes of these people as they each explain their love and affinity with chickens. We see the processes they each go through in grooming their birds and the sheer level of commitment that it takes to rear a prize-winning pullet.
It’s one chick flick where feathers are guaranteed to fly in a battle to rule the roost
The politics that arise within the club are shown in a ‘fly on the wall’ type set up as the crew never gets involved in what takes place within the confines of the club meetings. This once again removes the chances of this documentary looking staged or orchestrated. Everything seamlessly works towards the big finale that is the National Show and even though there is no big profound message to be construed from this film, it always remains fun and lighthearted.
Pecking Order probably isn’t something you would go out of your way to see, but if you do get the opportunity to see it - go! It’s simplistic in its set up and doesn’t try to be anything more than it is: a documentary about chickens and the people who breed them. Each person in the film is a character in their own right and everyone is equally loveable and sweet. It’s warm and charming and a good laugh to boot.
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