The Illinois Parables


The Illinois Parables (2016)



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An experimental documentary comprised of regional vignettes about faith, force, technology and exodus. Eleven parables relay histories of settlement, removal, technological breakthrough, violence, messianism and resistance, all occurring somewhere in the state of Illinois. The state is a convenient structural ruse, allowing its histories to become allegories that explore how we're shaped by conviction and ideology. The film suggests links between technological and religious abstraction, placing them in conversation with governance. Locations are those where the boundaries between the rational and supernatural are tenuous. They are "thin places" where the distance between heaven and earth has collapsed, or more secularly, any place that bears a heavy past, where desire and displacement have lead us into or erased us from the land. What began as a consideration of religious freedom eventually led to sites where belief or invention triggered expulsion. The film utilizes reenactment, archival footage, observational shooting, inter-titles and voiceover to tell its stories and is an extension of previous works in which the director questioned foundational American tenants. The Parables consider what might constitute a liturgical form. Not a sermon, but a form that questions what morality catalyzes, and what belief might teach us about nationhood. In our desire to explain the unknown, who or what do we end up blaming or endorsing?


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Critic Reviews for The Illinois Parables

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (4)

This accomplished essay film may focus on our state, but Stratman's real concern is state power in the larger sense...Connecting all this are sweeping aerial shots that capture the beauty of the plains without obscuring the blood spilled to claim them.

Apr 27, 2017 | Full Review…

An absorbing celluloid meditation on geography and history.

Nov 30, 2016 | Full Review…

Stratman often juxtaposes static, serene landscape footage with an increasingly agitated soundtrack, arriving at an odd consonance amid so much dissonance.

Nov 17, 2016 | Full Review…

A meditation on history and landscape, it has the power both to soothe complicated feelings about America and to inflame them.

Nov 16, 2016 | Full Review…

Thematically linked experimental documentary "suite" uses strong resonant images, with some re-enactments, to show how the land and prairie landscape don't forget the past.

Jul 15, 2017 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…

Even more diverse than the film's historical material is its eccentric mash-up of styles and approaches.

Nov 14, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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