Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The beauty and boredom that is Din of Celestial Birds

Last week, I vigorously raved about E. Elias Merhige's uber-dark art house experimental flick, Begotten. Well, that was the beginning of an unofficial trilogy. Here, for the approval of the Midnight Society, is the 2006 follow-up, running at a much shorter time of 14 minutes, Din of Celestial Birds:

Begotten dealt with Genesis, whereas Din of Celestial Birds is a poetically visual look at the birth of man. Premiering on Turner Classic Movies in 2006, it is the middle part of an uncompleted trilogy. But is it any good?

Begotten could be seen as a harsh narrative. Complicated, yes, but still a film. The same cannot be said of Din of Celestial Birds. It plays more as an extended music video, or an art gallery piece (which you may remember, I pushed as a positive that Begotten was not). It is undeniably beautiful and stunning, a visual partner to its predecessor as well as story-wise, but after three minutes of the Rorschach-like montage, you want to just move on, which doesn't happen until the birth of man, which is followed moments later by the closing credits (which account for almost a third of the runtime, but appear to be three names repeated again and again).

The film is a bit of a cock-tease. Perhaps it is preparing us for the final film in the collection, but I doubt it. Begotten is a notorious unrelenting flick, with this one seeming to be the response to critics, saying 'It's ok, I can do something calm as well'.

The tone of the short reminds me a lot of the final act of The Fountain, but lacking the expansion Aronofsky's feature had. All in all, Din of Celestial Birds is beautiful, but not worth a second look. It is a polar opposite to Begotten and, as such, is missing the bite and depth.