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Decasia (2002)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 565 users   Metascore: 67/100
Reviews: 21 user | 42 critic | 6 from Metacritic.com

A meditation on the human quest to transcend physicality, constructed from decaying archival footage and set to an original symphonic score.

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Black and white stock footage, much of it scratched or blistered, illustrates a Michael Gordon symphony. A whirling dervish, couples laughing, a soldier trying to take advantage of a flower vendor, a camel caravan moving across the horizon, a single plane and then others, paratroopers in the sky, a mining disaster, a pugilist, nuns and children at a school - some images last a few seconds, others for a minute or more. The scratches, blisters, and bygone look of the footage suggest time's passage. Only the dervish, who begins and ends the film, is intact. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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3 October 2003 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Aposynthesia  »

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Selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in December 2013. See more »

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In memory of Hortense K. Becker, (1902-2001) 'Big Non' See more »

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Features Truthful Tulliver (1917) See more »

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User Reviews

A film student's remediated wetdream
8 February 2006 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

The premise for this film project is deceptively simple. Take a whole bunch of decaying old film negatives, splice them together and viola: instant art film. This highly recommended film by Bill Morrison creates an effect similar to the visual kaleidoscope you'd see in the Kowaanisqatsi trio of films. Opening with shots of a whirling dervish who punctuates the beginning, middle and end of the film, Morrison sets up a series of "action" shots that when watched slowed down with their naturally occurring decay, take on an otherworldly feeling. Decaying celluloid takes on emotional meaning, reflecting the new readings that the viewer brings to the film. What were probably once quite banal scenes of nuns overseeing children walking through a courtyard, for example, take on an eerie ghostly effect and a scene where a man makes untoward advances on a woman is given heighten tension by the angry swirls the rotting film creates. Some segments were disturbing, others funny, many just beautifully impressionistic.

This 70-minute film is quite trippy to watch and your mind will try to make sense of it by finding "things" in the shapes the crackling celluloid creates. (Is that mould? Is it waves crashing on the shore? Neither?) The dramatic score for the film seems lifted off of the disintegrating film, with its odd, oft-times sinister, octaves. At some points near the end, the onslaught of music combined with the repetitiveness of the images was almost too much. Interestingly, no colour film was used. On the one hand it would be difficult to even call this a film, on the other it is actually a film made literally of film. Think Vertov's A Man with a Movie Camera meets Bunuel/Dali's Un Chien andalou. All up, this is a beautiful study in remediation and a film student's wetdream.


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