Andrea Arnold has refused to speak about her experience on season 2 of “Big Little Lies” — her last major credit before her Cannes-premiering documentary “Cow” — despite subtly hinting that all was not kosher.
Asked how long she was editing on “Cow,” Arnold said there was “a lot of stopping and starting” because “we were trying to edit it at the same time I was editing ‘Big Little Lies,’ which was not happening,” the director smirked. “It had five editors, ‘Big Little Lies.’”
Arnold directed season 2 of HBO’s “Big Little Lies,” taking over for Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée who helmed season 1. After the show premiered it quickly became clear that the show’s sequences appeared disjointed and scenes felt uneven — highly uncharacteristic of Arnold’s normally raw but robust style. In an exposé by Indiewire, it was later revealed that HBO, executive producer David E. Kelley and Vallée had effectively taken Arnold’s cut and reconfigured the material in post production — a plan they had seemingly never communicated to the director.
However, when asked by Variety whether she was keen to set the record straight about what really happened, Arnold said, “I’m not going to talk about that.”
Pressed whether reports of the discord in post production were accurate, Arnold replied, “I learned a great deal, that’s all I’m going to say.”
Arnold has never spoken publicly about the scandal until now.
Her documentary “Cow” premiered in Cannes on Thursday. The 90-minute film, shot in the director’s handheld style throughout, follows the life of a British dairy cow. Extremely intimate in style, dialogue in the movie is sparse and heard only among the workers at the factory. The doc is entirely focused on the cow and her subsequent calves, and depicts the intense demands placed on the animals and the squalid, pent-up conditions in which they spend the vast majority of their lives.
Writing a personal essay in The Guardian about why she chose the subject matter, Arnold — whose family had many pets, including a sheep, who were often unsupervised when she was growing up — noted that, “In all my relationships with animals, they for sure feel as if they have distinct likes and dislikes and individual quirks. So what about the animals we use for food? Cows? I wondered, if we watched a cow long enough, would we see any of this?
“I didn’t want in any way to attempt to get inside her head or suggest human emotions. I just wanted to watch her reactions to her daily reality. In all of its beauty and challenges and brutality. To look. To see. To see her,” Arnold wrote.
Arnold, an Oscar winner for her 2005 short film “Wasp,” is best know for the films “Red Road,” “Fish Tank,” “Wuthering Heights” and “American Honey.” Many of her features feature recurring animal imagery, though this is the first of her films to focus solely on an animal.
More to come.