Order (The): From Matthew Barney's Cremaster 3
R4 - Australia - Accent
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (14th February 2005).
The Film

Acclaimed artist Matthew Barney has spent over nine years creating what is called cinematic art, starting in 1995 with the first of the Cremaster a series of films. Shown in galleries and festivals around the world each chapter of the cycle is dedicated to a specific theme. None of these films feature any dialogue they are purely an aural and visual experience. Each film was created out of order with the fourth filmed first in 1995, however the cycle itself contains five stages, with a sixth supposedly in the works, It’s very hard to actually review these pieces because they have no plot and are not exactly films but rather they are art, and how one interprets the contents of his work are purely subjective.
Unfortunately the only way to see the complete cycle are at galleries that host it or at festivals, a US distributor Palm Pictures at one time was going to release a complete box set of all five films, but this has not yet come to fruition. Currently the only DVD available is a segment from the third cycle entitled The Order this stand alone segment is 31 minutes long and is featured on this Accent release. The Order is described as:
A death-defying race to the top of the Guggenheim Museum, Mathew Barney is a tartan clad apprentice seeking Masonic redemption. Before taking on legendary sculptor Richard Serra, who tosses molten Vaseline down the Guggenheim’s ramps. Barney must bypass the troupe of tap-dancing girl scouts, a pair of duelling hardcore bands, a ravishing model who transforms into a cheetah and a caber toss with a flayed ram in a dizzying mirror to the artist’s fantastical Cremaster Cycle.
I’ve watched this film about five or six times without the benefit (if any) of seeing any of the other Cremaster Cycle films so it was at first extremely hard to make any sense of what exactly was going on here. When it comes to art I strive to find meaning in the piece in order to connect with it on a personal level. To others it will be something different, which is what makes art so universal in it’s interpretation.
What I got from this film, or rather section from Cremaster 3 is that The Order seems to represents the life cycle of a person in five stages, represented here as: 1) The order of the rainbow for girls, 2) Agnostic Front vs. Murphy’s Law, 3) Aimee Mullins, 4) Five points of fellowship and 5) Richard Serra.
The first stage, The order of the rainbow for girls represents the first stage of life, birth that is presented as a bubble bath at the bottom of the Guggenheim. The bath is a secure and loving place that is reminiscent of the womb, here the Apprentice is revealed from a group of women that come out of the bath.
From there the Apprentice journeys out and into the realm of dancing lambs, these lambs whose choreographed steps represent the youthful child stage of life, a stage were we need to created bonds, friendships and most importantly to address and solidify the need to be just like everyone else, a sense of being normal.
The next stage represents the teenage, this stage Agnostic Front vs. Murphy’s Law features two duelling hardcore metal bands, in between are a group of people moshing to the music but are torn between the two bands. A metaphore for eaching puberty perhaps? As this stage in one's life can be confusing and shown here as a rift between the two bands Agnostic Front and Murphy’s Law. Also it conjures up images of the need to revolt against parents and adult figures.
Stage three Aimee Mullins sees the Apprentice as a young adult discovering and experiencing sexuality, this is enforced with the Apprentice’s discovery of the phallic object and the model Aimee Mullins who transforms into a cheetah pushing the sexuality envelope a little more as we go into what is considered illegal sexual conduct, feelings of guilt, perversions and heightened sense of excitement at the thought of being caught are the themes that I got from this stage.
Stage four The five points of fellowship we see the Apprentice caber tossing several large phallic pieces (themes of sex arise yet again here, later in the life cycle), the Apprentice appears to be having a hard time with the pieces, this can represent the later years of one’s life the hit and miss of each toss is a suggestion of the lack of sexual activity one has older in life that results in failure.
Finally we have the last stage five Richard Serra here we have the famed sculptor throwing molten Vaseline down the ramps of the Guggenheim, this Vaseline is referenced throughout the different stages as it trickles down the spiral attempting to slow down the Apprentice’s movements. Serra represents fear that at the later stages of a human’s life cycle as they are nearer to death one begins to fear less as they stare right at it. So The Apprentice returns right back to the beginning, the place that is secure and safe the bath at the bottom floor and his the life cycle begins anew.
This is just my interpretation of the piece, take from it what you will either way The Order is an aurally and visually compelling work from an audacious and interesting artist.

Video

Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, this anamorphic transfer is truly stunning, the image is sharp, colours are bold and I could not detect any flaws what so ever. Accent have provided a truly wonderful transfer for this piece if cinematic art.

Audio

Two soundtracks are included one in DTS 5.1 and the other in Dolby Digital 5.1, I had a chance to view the film in both these tracks. ComposerJonathan Bepler created a new sound mix in 5.1 especially for this DVD, he has re-written, expanded and remixed material from the Cremaster 3 film for this DVD. Both the DTS and Dolby Digital tracks presents the score and sound effects here clear and free of distortion, each channel of the 5.1 surround is utilized to place the viewer right into the art that is the film. I found both tracks to be similar but the DTS has a slight edge in that the soundscape appears to have more depth than the Dolby.

Extras

First up we have a multi-angle version of the film which extends the film to two hours. Here you can explore the different takes and alternate sequences filmed for the Order and also unlock alternate music not in the original film. This section is made up of five different simultaneous video and audio streams that represent the different levels of the game and an icon will appear to let you know when you can access a different angle. This function utilises a often forgotten DVD feature and actually makes for a unique interactive experience that puts the game in your hands almost like a live art show.

Following that we have an audio commentary by director Matthew Barney, in this commentary he discusses the influences for the piece as well as revealing some behind-the-scenes information regarding the shoot. Overall it’s a decent effort that doesn’t give too much away about the film and it’s overall meaning allowing the viewer to make up his or her own mind.

Next up are a series of 10 new musical remixes by the hardcore metal bands Agnostic Front and Murphy’s Law. These are presented as selectable audio clips only from a sub-menu. These are all tracks from the two bands that have been given a special treatment for this disc.

A theatrical trailer for the complete cycle is also included as are static text pages of film and DVD credits. Finally the package also includes a booklet that details the 5 stages of The Order.

Packaging

The disc is housed in a handsome digi-pack case.

Overall

The Order is a aurally and visually challenging piece of contemporary film art that can hold a different meaning to viewers, some people may not necessarily get it and does require multiple viewings but the overall result is very satisfying. Accent have done it again with a beautiful presentation that includes a top notch audio and video transfers as well as including a handful of extras that will keep you busy for some time including the multi-angle version of the film. This film is not for everyone but fine art enthusiasts will certainly enjoy this one.

The Film: B- Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A Overall: A

 


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