Friday, November 16, 2012

25 Horror Films: #2


Begotten (E. Elias Merhige, 1990)

If the moving images in any of the films on my list speak for themselves, it's the images in Begotten.

I won't try to describe the film to anyone who hasn't already seen it. Wikipedia offers a plot summary, though, like most descriptions, it gives no sense of the feel or form of the film. With that in mind I've decided to offer a "summary" constructed from a few extracts from Pierre Guyotat's 1971 novel Eden, Eden, Eden. (If Guyotat's "unthinkable" book were ever to be adapted to film, it seems to me that the only way it'd have a chance at success would be if it were to be done in the language of Merhige's Begotten.)

"...blood haunting bedroom, dry powdered blood running in butcher's inner ear throbbing with nightmares... jissom, milk, squirting... woman's hand palpating...  woman rising from bed, walking, barefoot, through garden... kneeling, huddling, pressed back down into corner... worker, with foot, laying youth flat out on tile: crouching down, pressing two fists together onto torso, elbow digging into sexual cluster between thighs— separating, slow, cool, revealing grimy sweat in folds of groin; fists delving under torso, forcing spleen, kidney, intestines: contracted head of youth groaning, crystalline, with each compression; hand of blond worker digging down... head, mute, vibrating; whereupon, same hand, clenched, moving up over torso, forcing serrated muscle, other hand jerking, gropingfingers spread, half-closed, spread, joined, towards source of cry, reaching aortic arch, blocking cry... nomad, hands pressed around middle of pole, pushing ... [his] inert body away from outcrop of rock: blood pearling over spear-head between curls; nomad pulling youth back onto rock, spearing body... nomad, kneeling... walking towards fire... squatting beside woman; her feverish fingers, pink over embers, diffusing blood into cinders; woman, wrinkles fixed on forehead, hand drawn out of embers covering half-open vulva, crammed with oily wet seed; ... darkness alternating with bursts of light..."

1 comment:

Tyler said...

Found this on Turner Classic Movies' website:

"Native to Brooklyn, New York, Merhige received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Motion Picture Directing from State University New York. After graduation, he dove into film quickly with his first feature Begotten (1991). Doing just about everything from directing and writing, to producing and editing, his hard work was rewarded when it was listed among the top ten films of the year by Time magazine. Susan Sontag, Donald Richie, Amos Vogel, and Chris Marker, embraced the film and praised it as a masterpiece of visionary art."

One could hardly get praised by a better bunch! (Of course I'm talking about Amos Vogel, Susan Sontag, Chris Marker, and myself.)