31 October 2005 | Zen Bones
If I could choose to send one movie into orbit in the hopes of introducing any alien species out there to our species, this movie would get my vote. This is similar in some ways to Ron Fricke's "Baraka" and Chris Marker's "San Soleil", in that it is an omnibus of our spiritual life and its relation to things, people and ideas. That's a pretty big canvas and viewers might find the whole thing disjointed, but I love this movie for its audacity and for the very fact that it is fragmented. We are a fragmented species that in this modern age, often has to settle for a reflection of reality instead of the real thing (the Elvis impersonators and the Shroud of Turin being the most obvious examples). Why people will embrace fake Elvises while turning their back on fake Rembrants is beyond me, but such are the ways of human folly. Part of the film's audacity is that it often doesn't explain what we are looking at, and sometimes it seems almost confused about what it is looking at itself. A ceremony in Benin, complete with dancing spirits, whirling dervishes and a man with an enormous fake penis seems particularly chaotic, but I think that just helps the viewer feel as if they are really there. The film throws us off balance so we can almost feel like aliens from another world who have plunged to Earth and are trying to get our bearings amidst so much weirdness. The pacing of the film is slow but never dull, and unlike the 'mondo' movies, there is thankfully no exploitation here. The cinematography in this documentary is stunning; every frame could be placed in an art book, in fact I've heard that there is going to be a book of the film soon. If I had to complain about anything, it would be that I would have loved the film to be even longer and that the DVD has no extras, but the film as a whole is a terrific experience!