There is a lot that could be said and a lot that will continue to surface about this film, and I have not even seen the others in the series.
The film is simply staggering. I always see movies cold, with little or no knowledge of the sometimes pretentious "concept" behind the film, but for this film Cocteau is a great reference. The cinematography is a worthy tribute to Kubrick's early style. It is clear that there is sophisticated and complex metaphor embedded throughout the film, though it's not as pretentiously baffling as say, Tarkovsky's "Sacrifice". I have to grudgingly recommend that one should see the website for an overview of cremaster 2 to fully appreciate the sequence, if not the brilliant execution, because in cremaster 2, writer/director Matthew Barney shows a gift for making stunning, almost schizophrenic connections among wildly disconnected stories which are each revolutionary even when taken alone. If you can stay with the film, the dawning of their connections is devastating.
I apparently saw Cremaster 1 and then 2 shown together which was actually even better, especially without the benefit of knowing they were separate films. Cremaster 1, which is like Kubrick's best work- beautifully minimalistic, quietly disturbing, seductive and surreal. It's also completely disconnected from the essential sequence of cremaster 2 so it serves to provoke imagination and destroy conceptual barriers before cremaster 2 starts. The sequence starts with the pristine, amorphous canvas of cremaster1, then becomes gradually more coherent in some unknown direction, and finally crystallizes into an almost tangible object. There is not a normal conclusion or an ending. The separate stories form an object. A beautiful, complete and complex object.
The film is truly working at all levels, and I believe it manages to break new ground conceptually. I consider it a genuine modern surrealist masterpiece, somewhat in the vein of Kubrick.
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