Bloodline
R1 - America - Cinema Libre
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (15th October 2008).
The Film

After the release of Dan Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code” and the subsequent film of the same name in 2006, a fever was stirred up in trying to figure out this whole concept of Jesus and Mary Magdalene getting married and having children. Though Kevin Smith did beat them all to the punch with “Dogma” (1999), I guess it contained too many fart jokes and not enough vague and imaginary references to art history like Brown’s book. Yet after the release of the book in 2003, almost every production company and publisher were throwing out their own releases in the wake of "The Da Vinci Code" phenomena hoping to hitch a ride on Dan Brown’s money train. Now, a few years after the craze of “The Da Vinci insert word here to make money” trends, comes along “Bloodline” a documentary from Bruce Burgess about the bloodline of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene.

Burgess begins by tracking down weird cultish-types who give vague and mysterious descriptions of different clues that could uncover the bloodline of Jesus, such as small references in paintings or different conspiratorial organizations they have heard of or are a part of that have direct knowledge of the ‘facts’ of this case. After some time spent with the creepy and odd bunch with heavy melodramatic music, Burgess joins Ben Hammott, an amateur archeologist who has been searching for various Christian artifacts, including something he things will lead him to the tomb of Mary Magdalene which will help Burgess prove his case about the bloodline of Jesus and Mary leading down into present day.

Far too much of the special is spent with the off-kilter types who take themselves far too seriously. Burgess takes this to a new level with the way he decides to light most of them, with odd noir-detective-interview style lighting that makes things seem far more dramatic than they actually are, and the music doesn’t seem to help. While this gets annoying after a little while, the adventures Burgess has with Hammott are slightly more engaging, their search for the tomb following the clues of an old French Priest are a fun little discovery, but it’s almost shocking how little science they’re taking advantage of, mostly operating off hunches and suppositions that Burgess latches on to, clinging to the hope of proving the bloodline mystery that he is trying to figure out.

But this isn’t necessarily surprising; Burgess mostly does paranormal made-for-TV specials about hoaxes or monsters. Meaning that now that Burgess has found someone who actually makes some real discoveries in Hammott, they find legitimate 1st century coins and artifacts in France, Burgess needs something more to go off of. Perhaps the most disappointing part of the documentary is how rushed it is to conclusion, after all the buildup with the cultish theorists and the actual discovery of an, apparently, undiscovered tomb that Hammott supposes contains Mary Magdalene, Burgess apparently doesn’t have the patience to wait out the investigation of the tomb and see what’s going on.

In the end, Burgess’s decision to not see the real discovery to its conclusion is fairly damning, exposing the documentary as more of a hype-fest built upon “The Da Vinci Code” phenomena that managed to stumble across something more authentic. Rather than simply distance itself by waiting it out through the discovery and examination of Hammott’s site, Burgess cuts of the documentary fairly abruptly and rolls credits with a montage of on the street interviews with people talking about how mind blowing it would be to find the bloodline. The documentary isn’t very well put together or all that interesting, considering the deluge of Jesus Christ – Mary Magdalene relationship talk that has gone on for the past few years. And with the 113 minute run time, you’re better off waiting to see if any actual news stories develop out of the Hammott finding, rather than taking the time to watch “Bloodline.”

Video

“Bloodline” is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen format, and the transfer of the footage looks fine for the most part, there’s a good amount of footage taken from Hammott’s cameras that were pushed into crevices he couldn’t get into which is fairly interesting and looks fine, but many of Burgess’s interviews are lit so oddly to give a more conspiratorial mood it really breaks the documentary feel.

Audio

Presented with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound mix, the audio comes through fairly clearly, there are no huge gaps in the audio in terms of drops in the levels or just sever quality changes that really hurt the documentary since some are understandable and necessary considering the changes in situation. Again though, the voice-over and music make the documentary far too melodramatic to be taken seriously for the most part.
This disc does not include any optional subtitles.

Extras

The disc comes with a small assortment of special features including an audio commentary, an interview, some deleted scenes, an image gallery and theatrical trailers.

First up is the audio commentary track featuring director Bruce Burgess and producer René Barnett. There are some pauses, they talk about some interesting stories and extra information about the details presented in the film, though there are some ideas that should have been in the actual documentary rather than left for the commentary since some details are more interesting than the more far-fetched style of the voice over. Similarly, there are parts were Burgess shows doubt in the story he’s telling in the film, talking about ways he could have been mislead. Admitting these within the feature could have made it far more compelling. The most frustrating part of the commentary is the fact that the sound level on the track is fairly quiet, so if you turn up the volume to hear the commentary, whenever there’s a gap in the commentating, which is fairly often, the film’s audio blasts out at you.

Next is the “Exerpts from an Interview with Nicolas Haywood of the Priory of Sion,” which runs for 5 minutes and 45 seconds. This is the interview that’s particularly over-dramatic, especially in the lighting that feels like a noir police interrogation, making Haywood’s claims about the large network and history of the Priory seem even hokier than they sound. It’s interesting to see the interview on its own, but the way it’s presented and put together makes it seem far less believable than it actually may be.

The deleted scenes are marked with a stipulation that they’re in low quality video and the footage is watermarked with the film’s website., most are footage of the discovery, there are 4 in all:

- “The Chest is taken to the British Museum in London” runs for 2 minutes and 12 seconds. The items are taken in to the British museum, Burgess reveals the cup, vial and chest are all dated around 1st Century BC and 1st Century AD.
- “Coded Messages at the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris” runs for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Burgess is taken through a chapel in France, looking for messages supposedly hidden within the art of the chapel, though it’s all mostly lit by flashlight and in low quality video it’s not the best looking footage in the world, especially considering they’re supposed to be revealing messages in art.
- “Templar quarry and underground labyrinth near Rennes-Le-Chateau” runs for 5 minutes and 32 seconds. Burgess contacts a French Free Mason about a hidden temple in the area of Rennes-Le-Chateau over the phone, then goes out to look at some huge slabs of stone that are around the area.
- “Tomb Footage” runs for 48 seconds. Some extra footage of the camera looking down into the supposed tomb of Mary Magdalene

The image gallery “Scientific Documents” is an amalgamation of images of reports from items found at the tomb site which contains 8 images.

The “Bloodline” theatrical trailer runs for 2 minutes and 44 seconds. There’s also a start-up bonus trailer for “The Beautiful Truth” which turns for 1 minute and 31 seconds.

Overall

The Film: D Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: C+ Overall: C+

 


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