Stephen Hook has named each individual dairy cow that he owns. With only seventy cows, all named and known, Stephen Hook is an unusual and incredibly unique dairy farmer. The Moo Man explores Hook’s caring attitude towards dairy farming and his passion for his animals and the way that they are treated. Stephen’s farm remains independent, selling unpasteurised, raw milk at farmers markets and to local residents. As the documentary unfolds we join Stephen as he attempts to expand his raw milk business and refuse to increase the numbers in his herd or give in to the corporate threat of large supermarkets and mass farming. The documentary is all about the relationships that Hook has with his herd; in particular, his favourite cow Ida. I wanted the documentary to go into more detail about certain issues that were only lightly touched upon. Hook briefly discusses the increase in British herd sizes since the late eighties, and his dislike for the taste of supermarket bought milk, but this is never explored in much detail. The film is enjoyable enough and despite feeling a little too drawn out, it remained amusing and heart-warming. It is a charming film, documenting a charming man but, sadly, it is very little else.
Perhaps my expectations were too high but I found myself asking questions that were never answered by Hook. Still, it was lovely to watch his humble and successful business grow in efficiency over the months documented. Hook occasionally expresses distaste for the way that corporate farms treat their cows, particularly new-born bull calves, but this is never fully explained either. I found myself yearning for comparisons and debates within the film whilst I watched Hook simply roam through fields, make spaghetti bolognese and deliver his milk to his loyal locals. The Moo Man is a joyful film, celebrating the independence of these remaining, self-supporting farms and it was certainly delightful to watch Hook not only survive but thrive. There is little depth or discussion but The Moo Man will pull at your heartstrings and make you view cows in a whole new light.
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