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Decasia (2002)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 512 users   Metascore: 67/100
Reviews: 22 user | 40 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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Title: Decasia (2002)

Decasia (2002) on IMDb 7.2/10

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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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Documentary

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Not Rated | See all certifications »
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3 October 2003 (UK)  »

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Decasia  »

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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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References Koyaanisqatsi (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

Earplugs and Blinders
8 May 2003 | by (Massachusetts, USA) – See all my reviews

I was unlucky enough to catch this film at the Boston Independent Film Festival. Upon reading the description of the movie, I was intrigued as I have always had a passionate love and fascination with old photography and films. The notion of seeing a collection of old decaying films artfully woven together sounded wonderful on paper, the actual film however leaves MUCH to be desired.

The film's "score" (if it can even be called a score) is a painful melange of long drawn out sharps and flats that are akin to having a gremlin in one's head scratching a blackboard with their claws.

This seemingly neverending barrage of ambient noise is the number one thing that is wrong with this film. I found myself squeezing my hands to my ears in the fashion of the "Hear no Evil" monkey and wishing that the theatre speakers would just give out.

The film would have improved by 150% if the "music" had been exchanged for absolute silence, or the whir of a film projector. Aside from being beastly torturous to the ears, the score also had the unfortunate affect of changing the way you perceived what you were seeing on the screen. Because of the dreadful hopeless sound of the "music" it influenced your perception of the film dramatically and made you see all of the hopelessness in the film's subject matter.

Some of the imagery used in the film was quite beautiful, the shapes and patterns created by the decaying celluloid could have been displayed separately as works of natural art on their own.

There were a few noteworthy film sequences, a boxer who appears to be fighting against a pulsing column of nothingness, patrons at an amusement park who appear to be jetting out of the wavering nothingness of a black hole in roller coaster cars, a solarized man and woman going out for a stroll. However, it was the segments themselves that brought the small bit of beauty that there was to the film, there was nothing that the director did which in any way enhanced or did justice to the visuals that he collected.

All in all this film seemed to me to be a selfish piece of art wherein the artist forcefully inflicts his own interpretation of his piece onto the entire audience and doesn't leave them any freedom to make their own judgments. The music told you how you were supposed to feel about the decaying films and the disintegrating characters shown in them. "Despair in the shortness of life and in the fact that death and decay is an unavoidable inevitability! Despair at the frailty of our existence!" The director got that message across within the first twenty minutes of the film, the rest could have been edited extensively and we all would have left the theatre much happier. The phrase beating a dead horse comes to mind, after twenty minutes of disintegrating celluloid and ambient noise, 50 more minutes of the same thing isn't going to do much good.

And interesting side note, after the film was finished, not a single member of the audience applauded, so I imagine that I was not the only viewer who felt unimpressed by Decasia. Unless you are a rabid historical film buff with a taste for insanity-inducing musical scores, philosophizing on the futility of life and endlessly long and repetitive imagery, skip this film.


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