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Begotten (1991)

Cast: Brian Salzberg, Brian Salzberg, Donna Dempsey, more...
Director: E. Elias Merhige, E. Elias Merhige
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: World Artists
Genre: Supernatural/Occult, Experimental/Avant-Garde
Running Time: 78 min.
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This title is currently out of print.

Recently Rented By beatricearthur

A "metaphysical splatter film" that was praised by Susan Sontag as "one of the 10 most important films of modern times," Begotten is a very grainy, often powerful work of experimental cinema which seems to land somewhere between David Lynch's surreal Eraserhead and James Broughton's heavily symbolic Dreamwood. The film opens with God Killing Himself: a man in rags slicing into his own belly as he spews dark fluid and oozes filth. Mother Earth emerges, or is born, from this excoriation and travels to a primeval forest. There she gives birth to Son of Earth-Flesh on Bone: a quivering man-child. The two are found by a tribe of faceless, druid-like figures dressed in rags, and though mother and child are at first revered, they are finally tortured, dismembered, and buried by the tribe. From their grave, life begins, and flora emerges from the wasteland. Filmed on black & white reversal film and then re-photographed onto a black & white negative, E. Elias Merhige's stark, grainy images of a squirming, oozing, mythical Creation are not easy to digest or to forget. Merhige's own experimental theater troupe, Theaterofmaterial, performs throughout. ~ Anthony Reed, All Movie Guide

You might also enjoy:
Shadow of the Vampire
Merhige's second film was more "traditionally" plotted but still quite odd and beautifully filmed

Tales from the Gimli Hospital
Another filmmaker whose work has been compared to early Lynch, this Guy Maddin film was similarly dream-like

Tetsuo II: Bodyhammer
Japanese cult favorite is almost as grotesque and surreal

GreenCine Member Reviews

Pretentious, intellectually elitist masturbation. by AMacEwen5 May 2, 2013 - 5:16 PM PDT
0 out of 2 members found this review helpful
The fact that Susan Sontag praised this film is all one needs to know to steer clear of it, for prententious, even risible, intellectually elitist masturbation is what it is. It so desperately hopes to be more than just a slice of shock cinema you can't help but feel sorry for it. The other customer review would have you think otherwise, as if visual intensity and shock are mutually separate things. If you choose to waste a rental slot on this steaming pile, you'll regret it. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Blair Witch, written by Nietzsche by IWhitney December 4, 2003 - 6:36 AM PST
10 out of 11 members found this review helpful
Scars change our physical appearance forever. Mental scars, however, change the appearance of the world. Begotten may be one of the most mentally scarring movies I've ever seen, and my view of film will never be the same.

It's graphically violent and sexual, and contains a couple of scenes that made my stomach churn; but it's impact doesn't come from shock, it comes from its visual intensity. Shot mostly in a super-high-contrast black & white, using a variety of film-altering techniques (the DVD claims it could take up to 10 hours to process a single minute of film) the entire movie forces your eyes to work, straining to make pictures and meaning out of this overtly symbolic, dialogless, deeply freakish film.

This title is currently unavailable on disc or is no longer in-print.

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 5.39)
114 Votes
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