Search - Decasia: The State of Decay - A Film by Bill Morrison on DVD

Decasia: The State of Decay - A Film by Bill Morrison
Decasia The State of Decay - A Film by Bill Morrison
Actor: William S. Hart
Director: Bill Morrison
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts
NR     2004     1hr 10min


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Movie Details

Actor: William S. Hart
Director: Bill Morrison
Creator: Bill Morrison
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts
Studio: Plexifilm
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 01/24/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 10min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

This is outstanding
3dgeek | USA | 04/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Although this will remind you of Begotten if you have seen that film, I found this to be much more intriguing than that film (which was very uneven, soaring high while occasionally bordering on tedious). The film also reminded me of Koyaanisquatsi and, believe it or not, some of the psychadelic sequences in Yellow Submarine! The soundtrack (it's very Phillip Glass) and the slow-motion effects are what are reminiscent of Koyaanisquatsi. Some of the sequences almost seem animated in the style of Yellow Submarine, looking as if they were animated pencil art you were watching (also reminded me of Bill Plympton's animated style). The images include amuzement park rides, miners pulling dead/injured workers from a mine shaft, a lakeside baptism, big city life, children being led through a monastary, etc. At 67 minutes long, it doesn't go on forever and those 67 minutes flew by for me. This is definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but if you appreciate unusual cinema, this hits the spot square on. It's hypnotic and captivating on many levels."
Hypnotic Cycles of Death & Rebirth
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 03/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Is decay and discord beautiful? Does this movie explore our fascination with the analysis of destruction itself?

A dancer twirling sets a hypnotic mood and then a cloud of smoke or clouds is taken over by what appears to be modern art bubbles. Then from these bubbles, a beautiful woman quickly appears and then dissolves into a seascape.

Raindrops of decay fall onto the film as images keep you guessing. Are you viewing waterfalls or waves? Are butterflies dancing on the screen or is the film decaying in a unique way. Camels run from impending doom as the film deteriorates and tries to dissolve them into the sands of time. Ghostly ships glide through an ocean and strangely the decay looks like tornados attacking the ship. A man escapes drowning only to seem terrorized by his own disappearance into time.

The Basel Sinfonietta Orchestra sets the surreal mood and can at times set you up for terrifying thoughts. Is this a horror movie or a film's worst nightmare? Images of dancing in the sunlight are drenched in the horror of death, the death of a distressed image. The music deceives you into thinking every moment is filled with certain doom. What you are viewing is not what you are thinking. This then becomes an excellent study in perception. If you can pull back and view yourself while you view this movie, you will learn something new about yourself. There are a number of underlying concepts.

As ominous music turns sunny days into nights of hell, you are perpetually on the verge of horror. What will happen next? What image will disappear before your eyes? I enjoyed the variety of decay. Like a child curious about mold on bread I viewed this movie with childlike wonder. The way the timeworn archival stock disintegrates is truly fascinating.

Decasia keeps your attention because you never know what will happen next. The movie chews at the screen like a dragon with huge teeth and there are even images that look like dragon scales or murky monsters. Humor does appear now and then in an amusement park and while children are riding in a school bus.

The images I enjoyed most where the sections of film that turned into watery ponds. They seemed to be reflecting a story where raindrops play. The spinning wheels are at times hypnotic and the black-and-white images are stunning.

As the music reached a fever pitch, the discordant bliss can become a little overwhelming and the contrast between what you are actually viewing and the impending doom starts to bring you back to reality.

~The Rebecca Review
Visually fascinating, and spiritually moving
Marc Berghaus | Meade, KS United States | 02/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a beautiful film. It is not a narrative movie, and has no plot structure at all. I first came across it by accident, while flipping through channels late at night, and became completely entranced. It is like looking at a fascinating, kinetic, abstract painting set to music.What director and editor Bill Morrison has done is create an hour-long meditation on life and death, using found, early 20th Century filmed images on decayed film stock- and uses the effects of the decay itself as a medium to convey a sense of passing, of loss, to the images that someone at some time felt were worth recording. This visual approach is accentuated by the soundtrack, a sometimes haunting, sometimes throbbing symphony by Micheal Gordon, which never pauses between movements, but constantly evolves- some parts fade in while others fade out. This constant change adds to the overall feeling of impermanence that the film so well imparts.There is a tremendous variety of images, and they are by no means all sad- whirling dervishes, geisha, nature shots, a birth (by C-section), a mine rescue, many scenes from silent movies; pillar-like nuns watching over a line of slowly marching, uniformed, Native-American students in some Southwestern convent school (this segment has a very creepy feel to it). The level of decay varies from scene to scene, flashing interference across the screen, sometimes making the film look almost like a negative, and sometimes taking a while for the image to become discernable. My favorite segment is a very long, slow shot of a distant airplane taking off and unloading a string of parachuters in the air, the camera slowly following them all the way to the ground. The soundtrack has evolved into a single, pulsating electric guitar, and the decay in the film has caused the empty sky to be a constantly changing, abstract field. It is hypnotic and beautiful.I found the entire film hypnotic. Its message is that of transience, and the deterioration of the physical film itself is why it works so brilliantly. It feels somewhat Buddhistic, but no particular religion at all is espoused, just change, and loss. The sense of history- not only has the film been decomposed by time, but the images are so obviously from a distant era, and the technology itself so outdated- adds to this. There is a sadness to it, without being depressing.I was also struck by the connections between chance and desicion in the making of the film. I found the overlapping of the random elements- the segments he happened to find, and the uncontrollable visual patterns of decay- with the control he exerted in their selection and sequencing and editing with the soundtrack, to be quite fascinating as art. These elements of chance combined with themes of change added another layer of complexity and meaning to the work, for me at least.I was reminded of a book titled "Dice" by photographer Rosamond Purcell and Ricky Jay, who has written many books on gambling and magic, and has collected thousands of dice over the years. The older, celluloid dice in his collection had begun to decay in wildly unpredictable ways, so he invited Purcell to photograph them. The result is their book of close-up still-lifes of the rotting and collapsing dice, with essays by Jay on dice, gambling, and chance in general. A small, poetic, statement on a much smaller scale than Mr. Morrison's beautiful film, but somewhat in the same vein.This film is not really for everyone. My wife, who said it reminded her of the world without her glasses, greatly admired the concept and intention, but found actually watching the movie a little "head-achey". I myself was thrilled when it became available on DVD. I find it to be not only technically, and musically fascinating, but spiritually moving, as well."
Abstract death march
Rebecca Johnson | 04/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I came across this by chance and was completely startled by its somber tone and the dissolving images. Sensitive viewers might come away depressed by the haunting soundtrack of car brakes and detuned pianos (among other "instruments") and images destroyed by nitrate or warped by heat.

There's a palpable sense of loss here that reminds me of old buildings, forgotten cities, childhoods lived among dusty, deserted streets. This is a treat for any lover of art, painting, music or life."