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Overall Rating

Awesome: 29.55%
Worth A Look: 20.45%
Average: 15.91%
Pretty Bad: 2.27%
Total Crap31.82%

2 reviews, 32 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Wants so badly to be the next "Eraserhead" you can taste it."
1 stars

I'm always up for baffling experimental cinema. There's a fine line, though, between true art and a bunch of posers spasming about for the benefit of a director who will later make the proceedings even MORE impenetrable and pretentious in post-production. "Begotten" sprints across that line in its first five minutes.

Like many bullshit artists (as opposed to true artists), E. Elias Merhige, who later made the hip, dreary Shadow of the Vampire and the high-toned thriller Suspect Zero, can certainly talk a good movie. A perusal of the booklet that comes with the DVD leaves you with no doubt that Begotten is meant to be taken as a ferocious cinematic convulsion dealing with The Very Stuff of Life the mythical origins of existence, viewed sidewise through a shuddering, grainy camera mimicking cinema giving bloody birth to itself as the universe decays and burns.

Eyelids getting heavy yet?

How's this for an opener: God disembowels himself. Nice! Like everything else in the movie, it goes on forever, and eventually Mother Nature emerges from the gore and ripped flesh. She gets raped, or something, and some malformed guy quivers on the ground for about six, seven years with cloaked people all around him. Taken in very short doses, this might be visually entrancing. Projected on the back wall of a goth nightclub, it'd be right at home. Protracted for 78 minutes that feel like 178 minutes, it becomes aesthetically punitive.

Some, no doubt, will find it scarifyingly beautiful. But the technique covers an awful lot of emptiness and repetition. Begotten could've been a punchy 15-minute short and made the same ponderous point about the inherent lust and violence of nature. Hell, your average Tex Avery cartoon does a better job of that. What we've got here plays too much like an earnest repertory-theater group going through various bizarro configurations.

If nothing else, Begotten makes David Lynch's Eraserhead look like a cheerful, accessible romp. It also lacks Eraserhead's genuine heart and its roots in actual pain. It's essentially an art-major riff on the creation myth, and everything in it is photographed and filtered, not felt. Merhige's later cold projects bear this out. He's good at evoking nausea and boredom in roughly equal measure, but that seems to be all he has in his deck.

If you enjoy projecting meaning onto stylish nothingness, "Begotten" is your movie. The rest of us may consider it the sort of art movie that gives art movies a bad name.

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originally posted: 11/29/06 15:41:20
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User Comments

4/06/17 Monsterman A disturbing, surreal masterwork that may not be for everyone. A Powerful experience. 5 stars
12/16/12 Mel It tries to be disturbing and artsy and deep and's all been done before. 1 stars
11/03/12 Gee Dee brill visuals & style. some scenes were too long. plot seems like an excuse to be mystical. 4 stars
5/02/12 Marty couldn't see what was happening, so it's a waste of film. pretty simpl 1 stars
6/21/11 David Not accessible. Too pretentious. Too long and not clever enough - shock and awe missing. 2 stars
6/13/11 sklee started out well; creepy and intriguing, but the rest is massively drawn out. yawn. 3 stars
3/16/11 Saif A. Khan If you were a true, textbook Christian, you wouldn't be watching films anyway so shutup. 4 stars
11/10/10 E. Buzz Miller I enjoyed it, but there aren't many people I could recommend it to. 4 stars
8/18/10 mitchell davis this movie is an insult to anyone religious and is a disgrace to believers everywhere. 1 stars
8/22/09 Prof J. I get efforts like this about once a semester, always from the same types. 1 stars
5/20/09 bm The emporer has no clothes 1 stars
5/02/08 brice beware of the ever valiant Christian apologist masquerading as an expert in everything... 5 stars
6/27/06 Tim Walegun The film demands rapt attention to comprehend what your looking at, let alone what it means 4 stars
10/15/05 OodlesofOs A film you really have to sit and think about for hours and days after watching. 5 stars
10/13/05 Bryant Gumby Some people just don't get anything challenging. Some people just don't get anything. 5 stars
9/19/05 mung Bold, hypnotic, mesmerizing, fascinating, absorbing, dreamlike...GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/16/05 drippy Completely unique...I agree that it changed the way I look at film. 5 stars
9/07/05 Bitchum THIS is challenging cinema. There's absolutely NOTHING like it. 5 stars
9/05/05 JubJub Ripped my mind apart and put it all back together...a one-of-a-kind film. 5 stars
9/03/05 Craven Just a beautiful, macabre, fascinating piece of work this is. Amazing in every way! 5 stars
9/02/05 Mailk You people wouldn't know brilliance if it raped you in the ass...go back to "Fight Club" 5 stars
9/02/05 Edward This movie changed the way I look at cinema-as-art. Just beautiful. 5 stars
9/02/05 Kelsey Disgusting... but great cinematography and a TRUE work of art. 4 stars
6/01/05 Indrid Cold Fantastic visuals, but gratuitous; Merhige has no other good ideas in this or later movies. 4 stars
4/03/04 cws Nothing there. 1 stars
1/23/04 M. Thomas Camp I think the movie is very strange, but awesome in it's way. 4 stars
12/05/03 yorgos dalman one of a kind mindbending masterp... 'well... something...' 5 stars
10/18/03 Corky Strikingly visual, and simultaneously repellent and majestic. 4 stars
8/02/03 Steve-O aside the visuals, there's not much too it 1 stars
4/14/03 Kara B. disgustingly beautiful, a one of a kind experience 5 stars
3/29/03 My T. Susspishus Beware of "Art" masquerading as splatter-snuff. 4 stars
3/23/03 Clive McQueen Crap 1 stars
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  05-Jun-1991 (NR)



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