Decasia - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Decasia Reviews

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May 7, 2016
Great score but otherwise extremely slow and dull and it made its point in the first 10 minutes.
Super Reviewer
December 27, 2013
Decasia is an interesting concept. Take a large batch of decayed film and play it with all the phantoms created through time with appropriate music. The music chosen however doesn't change substantially throughout the production and as a result, you get repetition and boredom. It's kind of like an art gallery exhibit that you find fascinating..for two minutes.
½ December 27, 2011
I like to listen to ambient music over this instead of the score.
June 6, 2010
i need to watch this again
Super Reviewer
December 4, 2009
This film is much more interesting to read about than to actually sit through. At best, one might process it as sort of a Koyaaniqatsi-like head flick, where a montage of disconnected, slow-motion clips is accompanied with a minimalist score. But the score (composed by Bang on a Can's Michael Gordon, channeling Philip Glass and Glenn Branca) is just ugly and nagging, and a high-concept film like this really needs seductive music to sustain its momentum. Even at a mere 70 minutes, the film still felt too long.
November 25, 2009
Felt like the arrangement of the images contained no point or emotion. I feel that the music was overpowering the images which generally were neutral. The whole piece only had one mood, and it was anxious with the music but the images varied from peaceful to reflective, to harsh and ugly, to angry. I mean, this got awards? They put it in museums. I guess I can justify the repetitiveness because in a museum you wouldn't stand there watching for an hour, maybe just a minuet like when you look at paintings, so that's why it's repetitive.
May 4, 2009
I don't know why I said this movie should be shorter the last time I commented on it. I was so, so wrong: it should be longer by about twenty-seven hours. Gorgeous, devastating, and profound, with a killer score to boot.
February 26, 2009
Utterly captivating.
November 26, 2008
Decaying film footage along with a wierd soundtrack. Even if you can handle the many epileptic seizures and headaches this might induce, you might still find it hard to watch. I tried but couldn't sit through. The phrase "Not for everyone" well and truly applies here.
½ October 18, 2008
A truly stellar soundtrack by musical genius Michael Gordon can not compensate for an experimental film that brings nothing new to the table.

It is my opinion that Bill Morrison is trying to recapture the 60's-70's Avant-garde movement in this film, where he takes, literally, decaying filmstock and splices it together to a haunting soundtrack. It's pretty to look at for the first 15-20 minutes, but I found myself quickly wondering if this was it? He wasn't doing anything new at all.
Isn't the point of experimental film to push boundries? To take art to a new level? This was more of a sendup to Stan Brakhage than a wholly new work of art.

If you are a fan of the genre, check it out, but you may be disappointed.

If you somehow stumbled on this and you don't like experimental, stay far far away from this one.

Seriously great score though!
June 25, 2008
This experimental film pairs a grating minimalist music score by Michael Gordon with similarly grating flashes of light composed of decaying film stock. If it doesn't lead to ruminations about entropy, it certainly succeeds as a visually jarring trip.
½ June 7, 2008
They say the movie is about humanity's state decay and I agree, but the movie is a bit weak. At 70 minutes it is far too long, and after 40 of those minutes the images becomes monotonous and thematically less important to the director's vision. Bill Morrison's work is haunting but it doesn't work at this length. I recommend you watch his short films which are absolutely astonishing.
May 29, 2008
Subtle, eerie, disturbing, haunting, sad, beautiful, frightening. A true work of art.
May 26, 2008
The third star on this film is awarded solely because the concept was an interesting one, even if the execution was disappointing.

Said concept involved the director gathering, and stringing together old film stock in various states of decay (hence the title). Age, misuse early on, accidents over the years, bad storage...all contribute to the at times severe damage of some of this obscure bits of film, ranging in age from the first years of cinema, up until World War II. This clips of mostly forgotten and unknown origin, (though two have since been identified) are strung together, their decay sometimes visually enhanced by CGI, and presented to the audience in slow motion, and the sound track of an orchestra that is literally out of tune.

The theme, according to the interview included on the disk, was that everything dies. The whole piece is supposed to be a ghoulish experience...everything about it is supposed to bring to mind a rotten, or rottING corpse. (Or all that same would stand for.)

It is for this reason I cannot give the film higher marks. First of all, despite my fascination with the notion of foundfilms being strung together, (I was attrracted to it by my love of all things obscure and forgotten), the piece becomes too immersed in the point it is trying to make.

For starters, the out of tune orchestra, (played, as I said, quite literally on instruments that were out of tune) is not simply playing tunes in minor keys, which would have been enough. Not even macabre music. It is loud, jarring, and instead of musical moments throughout the piece, is presented in one long, oppressive, undulating wail of sound. Many reviews referred to it as a nightmare set to music, but it is in fact the music that makes it a nightmare. It was written first and the film added later, but why anyone would want to hear just this music is beyond me. And when coupled with the ancient film seems obnoxiously out of place.

Of course, as I read more about the movie, that is what they say they were going for...horror, fear, nightmares...a jarring of the senses...all to scare us into accepting the notion that, like the once vibrant and life resembling moments captured on the celluloid samples so long ago, we too, and our whole existence, will eventually begin to deteriorate, fade, become unrecognizable noise, and utlimatley, just vanish, and in all likelihood be forgotten totally, as the actors and directors of most of the clips.

I guess I am too introspective for all of that to be shocking, if unpleasent. My father died when i was 7 years old, and I suppose I don't need some kind of rude awakening to bring me in line with the notion that our earthly lives are temporary, or that one day my body will turn to dust. Yet I could easily have enjoyed something making that point...instead of trying to hasten my much thought about demise through the use of excruciating anti-music.

Plus, my religious beliefs don;t match up with the allegedly horrifying notion that one day I will die and be nothing...people will pass on my stories, words and memories. I will not be known to the world perhaps, but I am more than a piece of rotting celluloid, and have no problem saying so.

If the concept had not been presented with such a heavy hand, i still would have found the notion of enhancing some of the decay with CGI to be quite disruptive to the entire notion. Granted, it's not always there, but when it is there, I think it is pretty obvious when it is being done...and you long to see what the natural state of decay was for these long lost relics. (If the metaphor holds, does he advocate we hasten our own decay? Awkward way to make a point...CGI has no place in something professing to be this profoundly artsy.

Still, some of the selected clips are fascinating to watch and to ponder over..who are these actors/people (there were some non-fiction clips, such as a real childbirth). Who directed? Where is it? was it a successful venture? How did it get forgotten? And the decay itself does sometimes provide a hypnotic, if not breathtaking visual experience.

Worth it to see the old, mega-obscure clips, and to ponder the things I have mentioned. Just put in on mute every so often if you do not want a head ache.
½ May 24, 2008
Stunning in its somber, solemn meditation on impermanence. Frightening score that gives the whole a palpable sense of bitterness--an inexorable marching forward of time and we underneath. Harsh. Ugly. Loved it.
March 14, 2008
This movie is great. It uses found footage that has been decayed or rotten. The music was composed to reflect this damage. I had to look up the history after seeing it and the majority of the film stock was damaged in a hurricane. It is really cool to see what effects water can have on film.
March 8, 2008
Bill Morrisonforms an incredibly interesting study about the preservation of film. The scene involving the boxer who is punching the decay of the film almost as if he is trying to keep it away was very poetic. Although one may argue the film becomes a bit tedious, it is stil a very unique and interesting film
February 3, 2008
Perhaps a bit over long, at least for my attention span, but the combination of the rotting images and the jittery music is extremely haunting and poetic. Cycles, life, death and birth figure prominently in the imagery... and of course, decay! Lots of wonderful rotting nitrate decay to stretch, distort, and obscure the images.
January 17, 2008
The music, I could do without, but the rest of the film is quite beautiful. Additionally, I had the opportunity to see this movie presented and discussed by the director, who also showed a short documentary on the saving of the paper film archives at the Smithsonian, which was very interesting. Good stuff for archivist and early cinema buffs.
January 15, 2008
I like the similar Lyrical Nitrate better.
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