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Begotten

Old 03-01-01, 07:20 PM
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I'm getting the DVD tonight. Is anyone interested in a review?
Old 03-02-01, 04:09 AM
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...yes! ...yes!! ...YES!!!

http://www.nitrateonline.com/2001/st....html#Begotten

! !
Old 03-02-01, 02:10 PM
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Yes, mainly picturewsie since i have seen the movie. Curious to know how its defintely 'different' visuals translated to DVD.
Old 03-03-01, 06:34 PM
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BEGOTTEN.

An unknown land, an unknown time.

Inside a crumbling house in the woods, under a grandfather clock, a masked, draped figure pours forth gouts of blood from its mouth, from its guts. Ritualistically, it eviscerates itself with a straight razor, baptizing its feet in filth, dying in spasms.

So begins the 'story' of Edmund Elias Merhige's 1991 Begotten. More description to the uninitiated is an exercise in absurdity.

This is a film that does indeed tell a story, but one so primal, so abstract, that it is impossible to predict or gauge reactions from those who take the time to witness it.

It is a tremendously beautiful creation in its own way. Making any film is a positive act in one aspect, but one gets the terrifying sense that Merhige and his company, theatreofmaterial committed an act of obscene bravery by turning their backs on how movies are 'supposed' to be paced, 'supposed' to look or sound.

The picture looks as though it were dug up from ages ago, the Dead Sea Scroll of film. Black and white, grainy, dirty. Crickets chirp, blood bubbles, birds caw on the soundtrack. Occasionally loops of gasping, gurgling, choking emanate forth from the humanoid forms in the terrible passion play.

There is very little else to compare Begotten with in cinema. The early surrealist films of Dali and Bunuel, perhaps. Brakhage. Most people will gladly have no reference point.

Although it optimally should be viewed projected as a film, this DVD is the best presentation it can get in this day and age.

Arguably, a 10th generation VHS dub might only add to its visual impact, because the film is built on a visual concept of distortion. However, the transfer seems to be accurate with Merhige's intentions. Though difficult to talk about Begotten in terms of "visual quality" I can say comfortably that compression is decent to good, image is sharp, sound is "clear."

As a DVD package World Artists home video has done a good job overall, especially considering the unique nature of the program material. Merhige undoubtedly never even considered doing commentary for this film. However, his brief production notes in the DVD are interesting to read.

The interview in the booklet is fascinating--a reprint of one that Scott McDonald did in a book on Independent Cinema from 1993, an interview with Merhige. Well worth reading, as it discusses the unique genesis and influences of Merhige's film, the theatreofmaterial, its making, and reception by audiences.

The theatrical trailer (!!) included is funny because of its overbearing voiceover and quotations by critics of the day, falling all over themselves to praise/condemn the film.

The worst feature would have to be the "Stills Gallery" which is nothing more than a series of images culled from the film itself and presented as a slowly moving sequence--you may as well go into the film and pause it whenever it suits your fancy.

Most interestingly, Merhige could have justifiably done what Lynch actually did do with The Straight Story and made everything one long chapter. Instead, he broke Begotten down into 56 chapters (!!!) and the film is only 72 minutes in length. That works out to one chapter stop every 1.286 (rounded) minutes, on average. They are all titled by "The Author," with everything from sly jokes ("A Close Shave"--chapter 8) for the killing sequence at the beginning, to dark poetic lines such as "Do not Weep, I shall draw all Things which perish into myself When I am lifted from the Earth"--chapter 46.

Although I doubt it was Merhige's intention, if your DVD player supports random chapter play, you can make an interesting show using that function. This is however a story with a beginning, middle and end--albeit 'unconventional' only begins to desribe the proceedings.

Use caution and good judgement in who you view this DVD with.

Finally, I was shocked and disturbed not by this film (what does that say about me?) but by its pixel breakup and hard picture lock/blaring digital audio distortion in chapter 45, at about 47.53 into the feature. This was reproducible. World Artists home video delayed the release of this DVD from 1/30 to 2/20, and I wonder if quality control issues were to blame. The DVD reflective layer on my copy was clearly "cloudy" and uneven, and because the authoring on this disc is fairly conventional (or so one would think) I believe I got a bad disc. I hope this doesn't happen to others. My Pioneer DV-525 sometimes is particularly sensitive to faults, either surface or below, in any DVD. Luckily, Amazon.com's customer service came through for me and is getting me a replacement copy free of any charge, and hopefully that one will also not be a dud. For safety, I would recommend you buy from a brick & mortar or from an online store with as generous a service. World Artists home video is new to this format and they, as everyone else, need to be very diligent about quality control in DVD manufacture.
Old 04-09-01, 03:51 PM
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^ (for the hell of it)
Old 02-10-09, 02:18 PM
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Re: Begotten

I was the actor who played god killing himself in begotten in the begining of the film. My name, is Brian Salzberg. There was a mis-spelling in the dvd with a "u" in my last name.
Anyway, I am happy to answer questions aboout this film which i think is awesome, you could contact me, my email address is praxis(at)twobodies.com

PS. Since 1993 I changed my name to Brainard Carey, but I am in fact, Brian Salzberg!
Old 02-10-09, 02:33 PM
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Re: Begotten

Originally Posted by Jepthah
An unknown land, an unknown time.

Inside a crumbling house in the woods, under a grandfather clock, a masked, draped figure pours forth gouts of blood from its mouth, from its guts. Ritualistically, it eviscerates itself with a straight razor, baptizing its feet in filth, dying in spasms.

So begins the 'story' of Edmund Elias Merhige's 1991 Begotten. More description to the uninitiated is an exercise in absurdity.

This is a film that does indeed tell a story, but one so primal, so abstract, that it is impossible to predict or gauge reactions from those who take the time to witness it.

It is a tremendously beautiful creation in its own way. Making any film is a positive act in one aspect, but one gets the terrifying sense that Merhige and his company, theatreofmaterial committed an act of obscene bravery by turning their backs on how movies are 'supposed' to be paced, 'supposed' to look or sound.

The picture looks as though it were dug up from ages ago, the Dead Sea Scroll of film. Black and white, grainy, dirty. Crickets chirp, blood bubbles, birds caw on the soundtrack. Occasionally loops of gasping, gurgling, choking emanate forth from the humanoid forms in the terrible passion play.

There is very little else to compare Begotten with in cinema. The early surrealist films of Dali and Bunuel, perhaps. Brakhage. Most people will gladly have no reference point.

Although it optimally should be viewed projected as a film, this DVD is the best presentation it can get in this day and age.

Arguably, a 10th generation VHS dub might only add to its visual impact, because the film is built on a visual concept of distortion. However, the transfer seems to be accurate with Merhige's intentions. Though difficult to talk about Begotten in terms of "visual quality" I can say comfortably that compression is decent to good, image is sharp, sound is "clear."

As a DVD package World Artists home video has done a good job overall, especially considering the unique nature of the program material. Merhige undoubtedly never even considered doing commentary for this film. However, his brief production notes in the DVD are interesting to read.

The interview in the booklet is fascinating--a reprint of one that Scott McDonald did in a book on Independent Cinema from 1993, an interview with Merhige. Well worth reading, as it discusses the unique genesis and influences of Merhige's film, the theatreofmaterial, its making, and reception by audiences.

The theatrical trailer (!!) included is funny because of its overbearing voiceover and quotations by critics of the day, falling all over themselves to praise/condemn the film.

The worst feature would have to be the "Stills Gallery" which is nothing more than a series of images culled from the film itself and presented as a slowly moving sequence--you may as well go into the film and pause it whenever it suits your fancy.

Most interestingly, Merhige could have justifiably done what Lynch actually did do with The Straight Story and made everything one long chapter. Instead, he broke Begotten down into 56 chapters (!!!) and the film is only 72 minutes in length. That works out to one chapter stop every 1.286 (rounded) minutes, on average. They are all titled by "The Author," with everything from sly jokes ("A Close Shave"--chapter 8) for the killing sequence at the beginning, to dark poetic lines such as "Do not Weep, I shall draw all Things which perish into myself When I am lifted from the Earth"--chapter 46.

Although I doubt it was Merhige's intention, if your DVD player supports random chapter play, you can make an interesting show using that function. This is however a story with a beginning, middle and end--albeit 'unconventional' only begins to desribe the proceedings.

Use caution and good judgement in who you view this DVD with.

Finally, I was shocked and disturbed not by this film (what does that say about me?) but by its pixel breakup and hard picture lock/blaring digital audio distortion in chapter 45, at about 47.53 into the feature. This was reproducible. World Artists home video delayed the release of this DVD from 1/30 to 2/20, and I wonder if quality control issues were to blame. The DVD reflective layer on my copy was clearly "cloudy" and uneven, and because the authoring on this disc is fairly conventional (or so one would think) I believe I got a bad disc. I hope this doesn't happen to others. My Pioneer DV-525 sometimes is particularly sensitive to faults, either surface or below, in any DVD. Luckily, Amazon.com's customer service came through for me and is getting me a replacement copy free of any charge, and hopefully that one will also not be a dud. For safety, I would recommend you buy from a brick & mortar or from an online store with as generous a service. World Artists home video is new to this format and they, as everyone else, need to be very diligent about quality control in DVD manufacture.
Great purple prose!


Originally Posted by brainardcarey
I was the actor who played god killing himself in begotten in the begining of the film. My name, is Brian Salzberg. There was a mis-spelling in the dvd with a "u" in my last name.

. . .

PS. Since 1993 I changed my name to Brainard Carey, but I am in fact, Brian Salzberg!
Did you change your name to stand out from the pack of Brian Salzbergs, to distance yourself from your own past, or for some other intriguing reason? Do tell!
Old 02-10-09, 06:31 PM
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Re: Begotten

Originally Posted by Yakuza Bengoshi
Great purple prose!




Did you change your name to stand out from the pack of Brian Salzbergs, to distance yourself from your own past, or for some other intriguing reason? Do tell!
well, it was for several reasons i suppose, but i like 'distancing myself from my past' as you put it, and I am also a performance artist, and when you ask everyone to call you something different, its quite a performance! the performanc work i do is quite different from begotten but i became well known for it in new york, especialy the whitney biennial in 2002. my webstite is twobodies.com and you can see some of it there. I am happy to answer any questions about the making of this film or anything else!
thanks for asking,
brainard

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