Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
AS noble as the intentions are behind Bodysong, it is hard to
figure out why it has been made for the cinema, given that it
feels more comfortable as the art installation it so clearly is.
The film has been simultaneously developed by first-time writer-director,
Simon Pummell, as a movie, a website and a gallery installation,
and tackles the difficult task of providing an overview of human
life, from birth to death, via childhood, puberty, love, sex,
war and old age.
As such, Pummell and his team of researchers have spent years
trawling through film, video and TV archives, some of them based
on home movie footage, to deliver an all-encompassing portrait
of the human condition, taking in the highs and the lows, as well
as the perversions and extremes.
Driven by a distinctive and frequently haunting score from Radioheads
guitarist, Jonny Greenwood, it is a thoroughly riveting affair,
which can be as uplifting, at times, as it is depressing; while
its decision not to shy away from anything can make for some pretty
There are no words, only music and images, beginning with the
development of the child in the womb, and numerous births, before
taking us on a whirlwind tour of life and, eventually, death.
It does, ultimately, outstay its welcome, by choosing to then
highlight the rituals, celebrations, and initiations that occur
in societies around the world, and occasionally feels repetitive,
but there is no denying that the intentions behind the movie are
good, and that the majority of whats on-screen provides
plenty of food for thought.
The more shocking imagery comes in the middle stages, when perverted
sex gives way to violence and, eventually, war, to produce harrowing
images of mounds of corpses from a concentration camp, and various
human rights atrocities (some of which are etched in our collective
sub-conscious), but there are equally beautiful moments, particularly
when capturing the playful innocence of youth, or a burgeoning
love between two people.
Pummells research looks to have been exhaustive, and, according
to the publicity, has been drawn from sources as varied as early
Russian cinema, to home movies and, even, Saudi TV.
And while viewing it can be similarly exhausting, particularly
when confined in the trappings of a cinema, it possesses a unique
visceral beauty which undoubtedly stems from the originality of
Yet as worthy as it remains, throughout, I couldnt escape
the feeling that this really would be better suited to a gallery,
where viewers can take time to appreciate its imagery and meaning
at length, and where they can choose which elements of it they
wish to view.
And with that in mind, viewers should make use of the website,
which provides an interactive companion to the images on show,
providing a useful back story to each one, which fans of the project
will find indispensable.