In the opening scene of "The Lobster" there is this woman driving in the countryside. She stops somewhere in the middle of a pasture and then she shoots a donkey dead. Why?

Transforming people into animals is a very important aspect of this movie, so I suppose the donkey was some ex-human enemy/husband/father/... of her. However, I see no connection to the main plot and the rest of the movie. Is there any? Did I miss something? Who is the woman? Who is the donkey? Or is it just a shocking introduction with no meaning?

  • the donkey is the animal the cold hearted lady was turned into come on...
    – user39955
    Aug 12, 2016 at 4:43
  • @Taylor Any proof or hints?
    – vojta
    Aug 12, 2016 at 9:31
  • Wasn't she the heartless woman in the hotel?
    – Mary Ann
    Nov 11, 2016 at 3:32
  • @MaryAnn No, according to IMDB the "donkey shooter" was performed by Jacqueline Abrahams and the heartless woman by Angeliki Papoulia.
    – vojta
    Nov 11, 2016 at 13:59
  • 1
    May be relevant, but Donkies are often seen in pairs and bond as such (mulesprings.com/2012/04/26/donkeys-pair-bond), similar to what is said of "lobsters" (cf "friends"), so presumably this is all to do with the theme of monogamy running through the movie. I guess murdering one of a couple adds an extra dimension of cruelty to the opening scene.
    – robert
    Feb 20, 2017 at 11:49

4 Answers 4


The film's director, Yorgos Lanthimos indicated that it was supposed to be intentionally enigmatic:

PS: I wish I hadn't read about the film before seeing it, because when I saw the opening where the woman shoots a donkey—

YL: I've had people sending me emails, trying to decode that.

PS: I just saw it as an introduction to the world. Here's a cheating husband, who ends up divorced, gets turned into a donkey, and then she goes to get revenge on him. Probably she gets the wrong donkey, probably her husband is the other donkey that survives. That's the sequel to The Lobster, there you go.

YL: I like starting a film like that — you set the tone but you don't explain or go back to it. When the film finishes, the viewer can return to the beginning if they want and give their own interpretation.

Obviously in hindsight (once the film has been seen) the murder of an animal takes on a vastly different tone than it does at the start of the film before you're aware that animals = people.


Source IMDB:

The donkey she killed was with a another adult donkey and a foal. Later in the film it's mentioned that being an animal gives you another chance at love. I kinda thought the donkey was an ex partner who maybe left her and ended up as a donkey who partnered with another donkey and consequently the woman was angry and jealous. My take is just that it was a forward reference to the idea of humans being turned into animals because of failed romance.That was probably her ex husband.

  • 2
    This is a good answer. You can only speculate about these things but this is the best explanation... Apr 10, 2016 at 13:26

The opening image of any film is meant to set up the tone for the rest of the movie. It doesn't have a direct relationship with the story following the film, but it tells the audience what type of film they're about to experience. In this case, she was very specific about which donkey to shoot, meaning that that particular donkey was likely her ex-husband.


The donkey is shot because it has sinned. It is a human who has had relations with a donkey. All the humans in the film indulge in all the deadly sins. They are all eventually punished

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