The award-winning documentary “Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home” is actually about two journeys, one sad and tragic, the other hopeful and uplifting.
True to its educational objective, the film dutifully displays the gut-wrenching treks of countless animals to the slaughterhouse. Eight million of them would have made that terrifying passage — animals appear to sense their approaching execution — during the documentary’s 78-minute run time.
On the other road, the one far less traveled, are five farmers, each of whom experience a life-changing epiphany: that the animals they raised and sent to slaughter were loveable and sentient beings no different than the dogs and cats that were part of their families.
For those five farmers, it was an emotional journey from the cold, see-no-evil pursuit of economic reward to the thawing of human hearts long desensitized to suffering and death.
“I wrapped my arms around his neck,” said farmer Harold Brown about Snickers, a shelter steer that remembered their chance encounter a year earlier. Responding to Brown’s call, Snickers had ambled over, thumped his forehead into Brown’s chest, and remained motionless.
“I think he knew just where to hit me,” Brown said through the tears. “He hit me right in the heart. I knew then, that was exactly what I’d shut off ever since I was a kid."