Year of the Goat: On the Screen More Than You Think

Featured image credit: Vivian Le

2015 Chinese New Year’s Day is TODAY in China Standard Time. It is officially the new moon of the first lunar month at 7:48 A.M. of February 19, 2015. Welcome, one and all?

Two-thousand fifteen is the Year of the Goat (Chinese: 羊; pinyin: yáng), or Sheep (and yes, some say Ram, as well).

Image result for year of the sheep

8th sign of 12-year Chinese zodiac
Earth/Wood element
Lucky Numbers: 3, 4, 9; Avoid: 6, 7, 8
Lucky Flowers: carnation, primrose, alice flower
Lucky Colors: green, red, purple; Avoid: gold, coffee

I paraphrased all this from Wikipedia, but too be honest, there are book-loads more information out there in regards to the Chinese zodiac — all utilized in individual fortune telling. Something about a dozen years and animals connected with five Yin and Yang elements. They even have calculations. Check it out if that’s your thang. As for me, I’m more aware what year it is simply for tradition (a childhood spent receiving money in shiny red envelopes will do that to a kid).

The Five Elements are Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. The twelve animals are Rat, Cow, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Chicken, Dog and Pig. Year of 2015 is Wooden Sheep. Because Wood (tree) is connected to the color of Green. Therefore, 2015 is the Year of Green Wooden Sheep .

Any babies born this lunar year will be considered a goat (or a sheep depending on your ethnic background), and, according to Chinese astrology, they will grow into staunch adults resistant to impulsive choices. Routine and comfort will be their mainstays. They will excel in the natural order of things (hence the earth and wood), all planned out the way it should be. Anyone lucky enough to pair with a sheep thus shares in his or her smooth sailing tendencies.

Sounds rather lush, doesn’t it? No fortune-telling functions without its cons, though. Sheep people value their comfort enough that trusting others to not fuck it up to become close to them can be a very long road. Others may view them as reclusive, uninteresting, or boring. To be friends with a Sheep, one needs to be a Hufflepuff loyal and willing to prove one’s worth with plenty of calm support.

For example, buy them one of these. They’re friggin’ adorable!!!

For the intrigued, click here to read further about romance, interpersonal relationships, careers, etc.

However, enough of horoscopes. Let’s move on to (what else) movies and TV! That’s right. I’ve gathered to my bosom a number of selections with either sheep/lambs/goats in the title or as the subject. Some of them are quite famous, and perhaps you might be surprised you didn’t remember them until now. Others are . . . different.

Please note: I am shamelessly quoting all movie/TV descriptions from IMDb.

Movies with Sheep/Lambs/Goats

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins; directed by Jonathan Demme; Rated R.

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

An instant classic and my first understanding of the horror genre. Unlike Philip, I will never love these types of movies, but even I cannot mind Silence of the Lambs when it was so masterfully executed. Also, it has the best queasiness-inducing quotes.

Quid pro quo, Clarisse. Quid pro quo.

Lamb (1985) starring Liam Neeson; directed by Colin Gregg; Not-rated.

Michael Lamb is a Father questioning his calling, in a reform school in Ireland. When young epileptic runaway Eoin is sent to the school, the two recognise kindred spirits and escape to London together. With the police on their tail and the money running out however, Lamb is forced to make some terrible decisions.

I had no idea this existed. Had the synopsis stated that Lamb kidnaps Eoin to London with him, the irony of this movie vs. Neeson’s Taken films would not have been lost on me.

Lions for Lambs (2007) starring Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Tom Cruise; directed by Robert Redford; Rated R.

Injuries sustained by two Army rangers behind enemy lines in Afghanistan set off a sequence of events involving a congressman, a journalist and a professor.

Goats (2012) starring David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, and Graham Phillips; directed by Christopher Neil; Rated R.

As Ellis prepares to leave Tucson for his freshman year at an East Coast prep school, he also faces separating from his flaky, new age mother and the only real father he has ever known: Goat Man.

Normally I’d say Goat Man is no name for a superhero, but then there’s Ant Man, and he’s getting a movie already. Who knows what can happen!

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009) starring Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, & Kevin Spacey; directed by Grant Heslov; Rated R.

A reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets Lyn Cassady, a guy who claims to be a former member of the U.S. Army’s New Earth Army, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions.

Who has seen this and wants to give a run down? My curiosity is piqued by the strange-ass title and the fact that Clooney is actually staring at a goat in the trailer, but not quite enough to attempt a viewing. Oh, and have you noticed how many of these sheep movies are rated R? I did not do this on purpose!

Last time I saw a goat tied liked this to the ground, it got eaten by T-rex.

Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) starring Justin Fletcher and John Sparkes; directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak; Not-rated.

When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the Farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it’s up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home.

It’s based off the ongoing TV series (see below).

Sweetgrass (2009) directed by Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor; Not-rated.

In the summer of 2003, a group of shepherds took a herd of sheep one final time through the Beartooth Mountains of Montana, in the extreme northwest of the United States. It was a journey of almost 300 kilometers through expansive green valleys, by fields of snow, and across hazardous, narrow ridges – a journey brimming with challenges. The aging shepherds do their very best to keep the hundreds of sheep together; the panoramic high mountains are teeming with hungry wolves and grizzly bears.

This documentary was apparently quite popular in worldwide film festivals in 2009 and I’m jotting it down as one to watch. Perhaps looking at sheep repeatedly will cure my phobia of how their eyes look like. (Something about the pupils just creep me out, okay? Petting zoos are a nightmare.)

One of these things is not like the other. . .

37 Uses for Dead Sheep (2006) directed by Ben Hopkins; Not-rated.

Ben Hopkins’ documentary provides a warm, benevolent, and occasionally humorous glimpse at the lifestyles, mores, and background of the Pamir Kirghiz, a nomadic tribe from the central Asia.

Yes, another documentary, but I had to include it for the title, even though I’m uncertain how literal anyone is supposed to take it. Also, also, I found these latter two movies on Mubi.com, under a list called “The Sheep Lover’s Guide to Cinema.” (What? This is the internet; how can you be so incredulous?)

TV with Sheep/Lambs/Goats

Shaun the Sheep TV Series (2007 — ongoing) starring John Sparkes, Justin Fletcher, and Richard Webber; from the creators of Wallace and Gromit

Shaun is a sheep who doesn’t follow the flock – in fact, he leads them into all sorts of scrapes and scraps, turning peace in the valley into mayhem in the meadow. Shaun and his pals run rings around their poor sheepdog Bitzer, as he tries to stop the Farmer finding out what’s going on behind his back.

I’ve never seen more of this show than the sixty-second advertisement that precedes my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine episodes. If I had to choose between the two, I’d throw both of them down the toilet choose the gorramn train. God, the things I do to keep my toddler happy.

I like the fat one.

Black Sheep Squadron (1976 – 1978) starring Robert Conrad, Simon Oakland, and Dana Elcar; created by Stephen J. Cannell

The dramatized World War II adventures of US Major Gregory “Pappy” Boyington and his Marine Attack Squadron 214, AKA The Black Sheep Squadron.

Originally called “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”

Lamb Chop’s Play-Along (1992 – 1997) starring Amy Castle, Brian Ito, and Shari Lewis; directed by Michael Watt; Rated TV-Y

Shari Lewis lives with Lamb Chop, Hush Puppy, and Charlie Horse (all of which she performs as) and they get into all sorts of adventures, as well as Betcha tricks, Knock-Knock Joke segments, Riddles, Teddy Bear Tales, even song and dance and to close it all, they sing, “This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend . . . “

Muhahahahahahahahaha! My cousins and I used to sing this show’s most popular song (not the theme song) to get it stuck in each other’s head as punishment for various things. That said, I have no other memory of the actual series besides the lamb itself. It was a white puppet that bore no eyes, just eyelashes.


Aaaand that’s it. Hopefully you’ll be more aware of sheep and goats in films and television now. (Do I suddenly sound like a PSA?)

They are more than just farm animals it seems (no matter how eerie for me personally). People generally like them. Whether this feeling draws from Chinese astrology for likability or from the Christian origins of Jesus dying for our salvation is a toss up. However, I do know the following endures: the Sacrificial Lamb trope, a.k.a. The Character That Exists to Die (though usually after a few episodes/chapters so that the viewer/reader/protagonist comes to value them).

Whew. Anyway, long post about sheep, eh? All I meant to say was:

Happy Chinese New Year!/Chúc mừng năm mới!/新年快乐/새해 복 많이 받으세요

I’ll leave you with this last example of how far people will go to incorporate goats into their lives:

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