July 21, 2005

DVD Review: Bodysong

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWhere to begin, where to begin. Well, after watching the film, I felt a little cold. I had read the description of the film, but what I was expecting was not quite what I got. It is definitely intriguing, but not terribly successful.

Bodysong is an experimental work from director Simon Pummell, rather the appropriate name when you realize what you have been assaulted with. The film is tagged as "The Movie of Our Lives," and that seems to be the target that is aimed for. We are presented with an ever changing array of images. We are led from the early development of the unborn child, through child birth, to maturing, discovery of love, advent of violence, onset of tragedy, resulting in death, taking us back to the beginning. To steal a quote "the circle of life."

This really isn't a documentary, nor is it a plotted drama. It is a visual/aural experience, combining a progressive series of moving images from a variety of sources combined with an impressive soundscape from Jonny Greenwood, or Radiohead fame.

While I found the concept interesting, and the use of the variety of film sources to be interesting, I never felt emotionally involved. The opening segment surrounding fetal development and birth was intriguing, the start of new life is a wondrous thing. Then we track the growth towards adulthood. This leads towards the portrayal of "love" through the use of hardcore pornography, which I found to be used merely to shock, I really don't feel it was a good visual to use when love is the topic. War, tragedy, aging all follow. We end with the same footage used during the beginning, thus closing the circle.

I do like how many cultures were represented from around the world, and throughout the past 100 years. Some of the footage was quite old in appearance. I think the real winner here is the music.

It is not so much music as it is an accompanying soundtrack, a musical score, a soundscape. You couldn't go in and pluck out a song, but as an entire piece it is quite intriguing. It goes through high and low points, soothing strings, to odd techno clangs, screechy guitars, to pianos. Each segment of film taking on a new sound, but still incorporating a sense of rhythm and development as it goes through it's stages.

The film has a very varied look, the source materials are from wildly different quality levels. None of it is all that good looking. There is grain, spots, marks, nothing was cleaned up. It sort of adds to the overall tone. Everything is in a ratio of 1.33:1, which appears to be the proper ratio.

Sound is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it sounds quite good. It is not the best track I have heard, but it serves Jonny Greenwood's music well.

There are even some extras here. First up is the films trailer, which is nice to have. There is also an early short from Pummell, called Blinded by the Light, it appears to be a rumination on blindness and the compensation taken by the other senses. It is an interesting piece. There is an interview segment with the director on the development of the concept. Finally there is a commentary track with Simon Pummull, Jonny Greenwood, and an unnamed moderator, I had to guess at the participants as they were not identified. The track is rather dry, questions about getting the material and recording the music, with long gaps in between, I lost interest about halfway through.

Bottomline. It is an interesting concept, but in the end it is only moderately successful. I was partially offended by the "love" sequence, I think it could have been portrayed differently. I do respect him for attempting something quite as experimental as this, it seemed to be influenced by the -Qatsi series of films.

Mildly Recommended (for those looking for something a little different).

Also at Blogcritics.


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