Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Bill Morrison, "Decasia"
This is a conversation with Bill Morrison about "Decasia," which I'm watching for a class right now. It's really moving and creepy and beautiful all at once: Old, moldy, decaying films, taken and re-edited (no other treatment is used, even the seemingly computer-generated halos). Here's another clip.
Part of it is the film's uncanny ability to make you aware of death; the film is old and deteriorating and the people and images behind it are emerging in a supernatural way, from beyond their respective graves, a haunting by way of media.
The images in and of themselves, I am sure, would be fine. Seen through the natural decay of the film, a new layer of media emerges: it's not even self-aware. It's dead.
If you forgive some melodrama, it creates the distinct sense of looking beyond death, as if these are films from beyond the grave. For this reason, the film can be horrifying at times, and the music doesn't help. Neither does the rather exotic and obscure subject matter of these films: dancing men in traditional middle eastern costumes, Japanese Geishas, re-enactments (we hope) of military battles.
I can't imagine many people have the patience to watch this film; but I found it surprisingly hypnotic.