Szczurolap (The Rat Exterminator)

Warning: this video contains visually disturbing scenes.

Szczurolap (The Rat Catcher) is a 1986 documentary about the one of the few remaining rat exterminators in Poland.

The film begins with a scientist describing an experiment where a rat is shown to drown in a matter of 15 minutes when left alone. Another rat which was rescued by way of a plank but later returned to the water survives for 15 hours. The point is that a rat given hope will have the will to live.

In the rest of the film we follow the exterminator in his task at exterminating the entire population on a rat-infested farm. He describes how he needs to be patient. By using poison he could kill off perhaps only three-quarters of the population, leaving the stronger and smarter rats to survive and passing on their genes (and knowledge) to the next generation . But by waiting and gaining their trust he can exterminate a far higher percentage from the beginning. So much so that he will feed the rats, other rats will continue to eat his poison ladened or by hardening their stomaches with plaster, even when rats are dying around in front them all the while he stands there watching. The remaining rats are shot with an air rifle. The last surviving rat – the boss – is then literally lured out with bait on fishing hook then killed by smashing it against the wall.

The film ends with the exterminator revealing to his listeners that his real job is that of watchmaking.

The narration, while about rat extermination, is really a philosophical meditation of sorts. Very little information about this film exists in English. I highly recommend it. But it is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

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